UNITED STATES—I had quite the daunting task this semester in my sociological theory class. For those of you wanting me to explain what precisely sociological theory is, I’ll do so at a later time, just be advised it’s not as complicated as you think, but it’s not as simple as you think either! Crafting my final paper on diversity at the collegiate level was no easy task, but I found myself opening my eyes to an issue I’ve seen time and time in the classroom: diversity.
Yes, it’s a topic that we’d like to avoid, but we need to discuss it at a larger scale. Why is there a lack of diversity on college campus and what can be done to increase that diversity? Well it all starts with making higher education more affordable. It seems year after year, the cost of tuition at many public universities is on the rise and on the rise. Just when a family suspects they may have mustered up the funds to pay for college tuition for one semester, or even a year, they realize they’ll need double that amount to cover the following year.
Caps have to be implemented at public universities, so those that come from low socioeconomic backgrounds can afford college. This is the first problem with diversity on most college campus; many cannot afford to pay for school. Yes, financial aid is an alternative, but without it, for someone like myself and so many other minorities, college would be nothing but a dream. Financial aid is great, but that alone will not pay for tuition, room and board, books and other miscellaneous expenses that pop up while in college make things problematic.
And of course that brings up the issue of student loans. I tried my hardest and I mean my hardest to prevent myself from running into a situation where I would have to take out a loan, but it was inevitable. I need the money to help pay for tuition, and while things are great when you are in school, the same doesn’t apply once you graduate. Why those loans have to be paid back, and the amount of interest is killer, it takes so long to pay them off, you wish you had never gone to school to begin with.
Another issue plaguing diversity are those standardized tests that are utilized to determine rather someone is or isn’t ‘qualified’ to attend the school. The problem with tests like the SAT, ACT, GRE and LSAT is that it’s just that: a test! Just because you score phenomenal on a standardized test does not mean you’re ‘cut’ to attend this elite university or move onto the next level. I mean have many administrators considered the fact that some people get anxiety or clam up when taking a test?
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not good at taking a timed test. I get a level of anxiety, that unfortunately, I just can’t control and I feel this need to rush, when I shouldn’t. The pressure gets to me and that can happen to so many other people. I personally know people who scored excellent scores on the ACT and SAT to get accepted to top-notch universities, but after one semester guess what, they were done! They left school and never came back.
Yet, someone like myself who obtained an average ACT score managed to not only get accepted at a major university, but to graduate with honors and defy all the odds. However, it was no easy feat. The feeling of sitting in a classroom and being the only minority is nerve-wrecking, and what’s worse is that feeling that when the topic of minority subjects or issues come front-and-center the professor looks at you to have the answer.
It’s uncomfortable, so I think it should be a mission for those universities where the numbers of minority students are heightened. I mean when you attend a university where nearly 40,000 of the students are White and only 4,000 students comprise the student body, that isn’t much diversity in my opinion. That same sentiment can be echoed for those who are teaching in the classroom as well. I can recall nearly 8 years ago, the number of minority professors at my university was quite scarce. I could count on 1 hand how many minority professors I had.
Today, the university has made epic strides in bringing diversity to the classroom in the form of professors. I just wish that same diversity could spill over with the students. Diversity involves not just making sure education is affordable for all individuals, but ensuring that the notion of feeling at ease in the classroom keeps minority students confident of their abilities and not questioning their capabilities because there aren’t many faces like theirs in the classroom. Diversity is good people; it allows us to see things from the perspectives of others, something that many Americans never encounter.