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DSC Basics

The College Environment

A rewarding aspect of your college experience is interacting with a variety of people. Attending college enables you to learn side-by-side with a variety of different people (students, faculty and staff). Students may be:

  • dual enrollment students;
  • those who recently graduated high school;
  • those who took a few years to work either out of necessity or desire to explore before committing to college;
  • those attending to improve skills or earn the credentials required for a promotion or advancement at their current employer, and
  • those who are coming back after a variety of life experiences such as starting a family, getting a divorce or losing a spouse, that has removed them from college classes for many years.

Those students, faculty and staff vary in a number of ways:

  • Race, ethnicity, and culture
  • Nationality and national origin
  • Urban, suburban, or rural upbringing
  • Religion and faith
  • Gender and sexual orientation
  • Age and marital status
  • Ability and disability
  • Income, socioeconomic status
  • Political and ideological convictions

The wide spectrum of people in a single classroom may surprise you. You also may find that you have more in common with others that you originally thought.

How Diversity Improves Your College Experience

How does diversity positively contribute to your education? What benefits do you gain? Consider these returns:
  1. A richer educational experience. You have the opportunity to learn from people with different backgrounds and upbringings. You can learn about those backgrounds firsthand, not books, movies or media. This is your opportunity to expand your knowledge about the world that is not part of your own personal experience.
  2. Improved communication and thought processing skills. You learn to communicate more effectively and often differently than you are accustomed through interactions with those different from yourself. You will develop better interpersonal skills; learn new and different ways to approach people and effectively interact with people whose views are that differ from yours.
  3. A reimagined personal perspective. You might reconsider your opinions or notice topics previously ignored. This isn’t to say you have to change your mind. When you engage with those who question or challenge you or offer an opposing point of view, you can grow from it. You can re-examine your stance on a topic. It also helps you better understand why you hold the beliefs you do.
  4. An informed view of stereotypes. You learn about the truth behind stereotypes. Since you may have limited exposure to certain personal characteristics, it is common to hold stereotypical views simply because of being uninformed. Exposure to a wide variety of people helps you challenge stereotypes or biases you observed or adopted over time.

Remember that you also contribute to diversity. All traits and characteristics that make us unique deserve representation. Your background, experience and perspectives have the same benefits for others as theirs do for you. You can help to dispel a stereotype or share details that can bring understanding that previously did not exist. Don’t be afraid to share your perspective.

Source:  Empower Yourself: Skills for College, Career, and Life, Krissy Leonard