If parents want diverse colleges for their kids, should they put them on plane to coast or MARTA to downtown?

Parents considering tony out-of-state schools for their kids sometimes cite diversity as the draw, but are these elite schools really diverse? (AP Photo/Odd Andersen, FILE)

High school seniors across Georgia are spending this spring break cramming in last-minute visits to colleges to decide which they’ll attend next year.

In talking to parents considering loans to send their teens to pricey out-of-state colleges, I hear a similar refrain: “I want to get my children out of Georgia to meet people different from them in a different part of the country.”

I understand the urge to see other areas of America, although a $65,000-a-year college bill seems an uneconomical way for children to experience the mountainous beauty of Boulder or the cultural bounty of Boston. It would be simpler and cheaper to hand 18-year-olds an Amtrak pass and an Airbnb account for the summer.

What I find unconvincing is the argument teens will find more diversity on these campuses.

Between my older two children and my twin high school seniors, I’ve visited a dozen or more elite U.S. campuses where we met smart, interesting students representing all races and creeds. In touring colleges this year with my twins, we encountered high school students from the west coast, Puerto Rico and Alaska and talked to families from Turkey and South Africa.

What struck me was not how different these applicants were, but how similar. And that’s because colleges define diversity as race and ethnicity rather than socioeconomics and class.

Whether black or white, U.S. educated or foreign, the students at these high-end universities have well-educated and well-heeled parents. While waiting for a tour of a prestigious math and science college, I talked to a young woman from southern California who was captain of her high school tennis and academic teams and planned to major in neuroscience or biochemistry. Along with the same extracurriculars, she and my son were taking identical International Baccalaureate classes. She was essentially my son with a year-round tan and a butterfly tattoo.

Don’t misunderstand me. There are compelling reasons for Georgia students to attend a top-tier private college in Massachusetts or California. Classes are smaller. More personalized attention is available. The alumni networks are far-reaching. (And if parents can afford it or are willing to accept the debt, there’s nothing wrong with paying for college in Colorado because a teen loves to ski.)

But the notion students will be exposed to greater diversity at such schools isn’t borne out by the data. These campuses don’t boast a wide swath of American society. Yes, there are black and brown kids, but their parents are also lawyers, IT consultants and bankers. That’s because the requirements to win admission to select colleges favor students from upscale communities with powerhouse high schools and parents able to underwrite science camps, SAT tutoring and Duke TIP programs.

Despite efforts to diversify, America’s premier colleges still over-serve the rich. Culling information on 30 million college students using publicly available information on student earnings and parent incomes, Stanford economist Raj Chetty and a team of researchers found more than half of Harvard students came from the richest 10 percent of U.S. households.

According to their recent findings, “…children from families in the top 1 percent are 77 times more likely to attend an Ivy-Plus college compared to the children from families in the bottom 20 percent. More broadly, looking across all colleges, the degree of income segregation is comparable to income segregation across neighborhoods in the average American city. These findings challenge the perception that colleges foster interaction between children from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds.”

A year earlier, the report, “True Merit: Ensuring Our Brightest Students Have Access to Our Best Colleges and Universities,” noted 72 percent of students in the most competitive institutions of higher education — schools that admit less than a third of applicants — are from the wealthiest 25 percent of the U.S. population. Only 3 percent come from the 25 percent of families with the lowest incomes.

Parents who really believe their kids ought to be in a learning environment rich in diversity don’t need to put them on a plane to the coast; they can put them on MARTA to Georgia State University, which has both deepening diversity and an increasing graduation rate.

Reader Comments 0

64 comments
Whale750
Whale750

Diversity only allows socialists to promote their agenda. American history and cultural aspects are excluded. See the rioting at colleges forbidding American values and history by conservatives to be presented in lectures.

Their violence against others views is anarchy and Nazi style violence and hatred.

Whale

bu22
bu22

Maureen unwittingly hit the nail on the head with the flaws in college admissions.  Colleges want the Black/Hispanic child of a doctor.  They aren't really interested in poor Blacks/Hispanics and they sure don't want anymore Asians or White females.  Its giving benefits to the wealthy, not to the socio-economically disadvantaged and generally at the expense of other previously discriminated against groups-females and Asians.

Starik
Starik

There was an article in the New York Times; Georgia State is indeed diverse, more so than any other national university. Good for GSU.

AngieSS
AngieSS

In the same vein, I knew a young woman who badly wanted to do mission work in Central or South America, using her Spanish skills. She couldn't afford it and could not find a sponsorship for the travel and living expenses. Then she had a "eureka" moment and decided to move to Gainesville to live among the Hispanics who worked at the poultry plant there.


AngieSS
AngieSS

And I would add that "diversity" is more than ethnicity or socio-economic level.  Culture/religion varies a lot around the country and can be eye-opening for a young person who has always lived in Georgia.

thunderbug
thunderbug

Our youngest chose to go out of state because she was interested in a major that isn't offered in Georgia. The out of state fees would have been prohibitive as my husband and I were public school teachers (now retired). It was the Academic Common Market that made her attending and graduating from MTSU possible. Diversity wasn't an issue and never has been. Our family has always embraced this colorful world with all its diversity. Open minds and open hearts... we live happy lives.

Ficklefan
Ficklefan

Diversity? What a complete and total joke! There is not real "diversity" on any college campuses these days. And the joke is on the students and on this entire nation. 


How in the world did the idea that if you go to a college or university with a student body having a wide range of racial, ethnic, gender, cultural, religious, national, and socioeconomic diversity become the key to an exceptional or even good college experience? Especially when it is as clear as the nose you your fact that absolutely no attention is being paid to the fact that every student is being taught (actually "indoctrinated") -  to think and believe exactly like every other student on campus (in the mold and curriculum prescribed and presented - and demanded - by Dem/Lib college professors and administrations.  


And God help those who do not fall into lock step with the Dem/Lib professors and administration  brown shirts governing, running, dictating, and ruling college and university campuses all over America. If you are conservative, or God forbid, a Republican, don't be expecting any good grades or tolerance or rational examination of your opinions and ideas - regardless of how well they are supported by history, study, intellectual pursuits, research, or just plain old fashioned common sense. 


And Heaven help you if you do not acquiesce to your chosen school's speech codes or dedication to political correctness. And whatever you do, do not laugh or ridicule the concept of "safe spaces" provided to  the the fragile snowflakes trying to survive within politically correct bubble intended to protect them from  real world before they actually have to go and live and survive in it. No wonder so many of them are still living with Mommy and Daddy after they graduate.  


And they say that Donald Trump lives outside of reality?! What a joke. He is amateur compared to what is going on in academia these days.


There is no diversity at all on college campuses in America these days of the kind that actually matters, i.e. intellectual diversity. 


If you want your child to get something in exchange for the outrageous cost of a college education these days, and someone who can graduate and survive in the real world, send him or her to a school (if you can find one) that has promotes, celebrates, honors, and rewards intellectual diversity - no matter what the students look like, or believe, or where they came from.  

Whale750
Whale750

"Mainstream" ??? See if Christian or conservative views are allowed in class or conservative speakers.

LJTCD
LJTCD

@Ficklefan UGA is total liberal democratic college. It is truly sad because you are dead on. If you aren't a democrat, you won't fit in. In addition, colleges are about money not what is best for the students. They lock you out of any decision making with your student, yet you are paying the bills.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@Ficklefan 

It's clear that you haven't had any contact with colleges since about the 1960s. They really have changed, you know.

E Pluribus Unum
E Pluribus Unum

The fact that a university

is liberal ,or conservative

should not stop a student

from attending a university.

The business world often

has the opposite political

composition, but part of

college is adjusting to how

people view life differently.

There are plenty of colleges

that are conservative. The

University of Georgia may

have not responded to you

as much as you like because

of the federal FERPA law.

E Pluribus Unum
E Pluribus Unum

@Starik @E Pluribus Unum

Part of education is how you

handle problems and life

outside of the classroom.

Look at the networking that

takes place outside of the

classroom. I think of most

universities in the United

States as mainstream,but

then again, I am liberal on

some issues and moderate

on others.


Whale750
Whale750

Yes, these haters are creating chaos and Nazi like violence against others views that are not allowed to speak.

Starik
Starik

@E Pluribus Unum Colleges are about education. If you seek traditional Southern values, try one of the religious institutions. I'm delighted that UGA has become a mainstream, respected university.

Whale750
Whale750

Yes, they've embraced extreme socialists agendas.

cacul
cacul

Many students need to pick a school by what they can afford. 

I feel the HOPE scholarship program has put students in schools they are not prepared to be in.  Many students are simply not mature enough to handle going to college. Only 35% of freshmen with the HOPE keep it for their sophomore year.  Diversity is not the problem it is preparation.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

Interesting that at Georgia State there's no majority undergraduate race or ethnicity, only pluralities. White students aren't the majority group, and neither are black ones. Great many international students too-- Middle Eastern and Asian. The downtown campus really does feel cosmopolitan.  And this is changing the whole vibe of lower downtown Atlanta. Students are fearless--they go anywhere if it's a shorter route to class.

JamesBullows
JamesBullows

@OriginalProf I'm a white male that went to GSU. It was fantastic. I never felt like i was out of place. I felt like everyone, regardless of ethnicity, nationality, or anything else, belonged. 

Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

@OriginalProf

Students are clueless--they go anywhere if it's a shorter route to class.


There.  Fixed it for you.

Whale750
Whale750

Ask your other students about allowing conservatives views and history of this country. These other views are excluded with violence and rioting if they don't agree with the speakers views. They only embrace diversity when they decide what's accepted or excluded.

someonesdad
someonesdad

Screw diversity.  It's not something you should look for.  It's either around you, or you shouldn't.

TaxiSmith
TaxiSmith

The mire "diverse" the campus the less likely are you to find lively debate of social issues.

palepadre
palepadre

I know a young man who is apprenticing as an Auto Mechanic, at a Major Auto Repair  Franchise. No student debt, and likely will open his own location in a few years. Not a field where many foreign workers want to work.

Another comment
Another comment

The big problem is that lower income white students are no longer wanted anywhere. Several of my friends, we were the lower income Pell Grant kids who got scholarships to Private schools 35-40'years ago. Today you have to be Hispanic or black and low income.

It's a shame because many of us have had more successful careers than our upper income white classmates. They could never imagine what the hunger was to do better when you grew up in a trailer, a paper thin walled shack in Appalachia, or sharing a one bedroom apartment in Rent Control in Jersey City. I remember explains to one of them the reason I had the work study job was because the total family income for 6 ( intact family) was $5,200 on the FSA. His father made $75k in 1980. Only 15 times what my family made. They lived mainline Philly and had a Farm in Gettysburg.

Diversity is more economic than color of skin.

Freethinkethman
Freethinkethman

I scarcely doubt the students at diverse environs of Boulder or Massachusetts contend

with the spector of crime as is the case here.

BuckeyeGa
BuckeyeGa

@Lee_CPA2 The student was also accepted to Princeton and Yale...I'm sure other things are evaluate such as GPA and test scores.  Given the fact he was accepted to 3 top notch colleges obviously he's a great student.

Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

@BuckeyeGa @Lee_CPA2

Do you think they would have accepted him if he wrote "#PoliceLivesMatter" one hundred times for his essay?


I seriously doubt it.  Just another example of the politically correct rot that permeates our institutions of "higher learning" nowadays.

BuckeyeGa
BuckeyeGa

That's an assumption..He got im because he's a great student..

Starik
Starik

@BuckeyeGa He's Bangladeshi and Muslim, not black. South Asian, and they come in a variety of skin colors. His BLM advocacy is a puzzle.

Whale750
Whale750

All the schools you cited are lock stepping to promote diversity. This individual would be accepted to any university due to his race and liberal views.

BuckeyeGa
BuckeyeGa

47 percent of Yale is white..If they're promoting diversity they're not doing a good job.

BuckeyeGa
BuckeyeGa

@Starik,

I know he's not black..You haven't been paying attention to notice that races outside of black are advocating BLM.

Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

OH


MY


GOD


It's official.  Maureen has run out of stupid s**t to write about.


We were interviewing for an accountant's position last week and one of the questions we asked was about the level of diversity in their accounting classes.


"Well.  I did sit next to a Nigerian exchange student in Cost Accounting."


"Did you learn anything from the experience?"


"No, but I was promised a share of a couple million dollars he was trying to sneak out of the country from his uncle who is a Prince over there.  I just had to pay for the shipping."


Hey.  If your little snowflake wants to experience "diversity", give them $20 and drop them off at a Marta bus stop at 2am.  They'll thank you for it.  Trust me.

Astropig
Astropig

@Lee_CPA2


Sorry, but in the spirit of a new season of bad Braves baseball,you left a hanging curve out there that was just too juicy:


"We were interviewing for an accountant's position last week and one of the questions we asked was about the level of diversity in their accounting classes."


The first thing that popped into my mind was: If you are diverse enough (you poop rainbows,for instance), can 2+2 = 5?  I mean, honest accounting is to diversity what ballet is to work boots.

 ;)

BaronDeKalb
BaronDeKalb

@Lee_CPA2 I would not trust you with 25¢ much less any thing of value that a CPA might be trusted with. So why were you asking interviewees about diversity? You are the clueless one. 

Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

@Astropig @Lee_CPA2

LOL Astro.

Actually, the (very) old joke goes something like this:


Mgr:  "How much is 2 + 2 ?"


Accountant:  "Depends, what do you want it to be?"

Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

@BaronDeKalb @Lee_CPA2

Zing!!  Right over the head.   LOL


The point is, employers DONT ask about diversity.  Most hiring managers try to hire the best qualified, Human Resources be damned.

Whale750
Whale750

Employers are forbidden to ask about "diversity ", they're politically correct because of government policies demanding "diversity".They often have to take diversely over qualified and professional employees.

Tcope
Tcope

My son and I have been doing the college accepted weekends at several schools over the last month. The schools all have discussed diversity. It seemed to be just a footnote in their presentations. The reality is that all prospective students at competitive schools have similar backgrounds. If mom and dad can't afford to pay for a significant portion of the price of the school, the kids will not be in class in September. The minority or poor kids that make it to class in the fall will be few and far between.

E Pluribus Unum
E Pluribus Unum

It looks like the total cost of attending 

Georgia State University is about the

same as attending California State

University of Long Beach (out-of-state).



E Pluribus Unum
E Pluribus Unum

@BurroughstonBroch

Both universities do a good job,but the 

graduation rate is higher at Cal State 

Long Beach, and chances are that the

average college student would spend

just as much money at home as the

amount of money spent on  airfare from

Atlanta to Los Angeles.If a student buys

 three round trip tickets  from Atlanta to

 Los Angeles at about $400, it averages

out to $100 a month for a year-Would

most college students living on campus

ask their parents for an average of $25

 for a week, or spend an extra $25

a week more (4 weeks times $25)? 

BurroughstonBroch
BurroughstonBroch

Add the cost of airplane flights out and back 2-3 times a year, plus the added cost of living in CA. And consider that GSU is ranked higher that Cal State - Long Beach by USNews.

E Pluribus Unum
E Pluribus Unum

@BurroughstonBroch @E Pluribus Unum


Both degrees are worth 

the same for any educator working in a K-12 public

school system. A degree

from both universities can

get a student with good

grades into a  good 

graduate school,or professional program.