Student Benefits of Diversity & Inclusion

Diversity has a positive impact on all students.[1] In fact, when students identify their college campus as a nondiscriminatory environment, underrepresented students feel a greater sense of belonging and majority students show greater support for the university’s diversity efforts.[2] Here, we highlight four of the biggest advantages of a diverse and inclusive campus.

Identity Exploration

College is a formative time, when students experiment with new ideas and relationships. Students whose college experiences included diverse interactions report:

  • Greater awareness of social problems
  • Relating well to people of different races, nations and religions
  • Increased independent skill and knowledge acquisition[3]

Academic Engagement

Students who perceive their campus climate as inclusive and nondiscriminatory show greater willingness to accept intellectual challenges.[4] For example, women who feel that they “fit” into their science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) classes are more likely to actively participate in the learning process and classroom discussions.[5]

Critical Thinking

The opportunity to interact with diverse peers, both in and out of the classroom, leads to greater active thinking, intellectual engagement and motivation.[6] These students report confidence in creative problem-solving, a greater understanding of their field of study and increased comprehension in science and technology.[7]

College Satisfaction

Assessments from two peer universities, Iowa State and Duke University, show that when LGBTQ students and allies are given the opportunity to participate in “Safe Space” training aimed at creating inclusive environments, they report greater comfort and improved perceptions of the campus atmosphere.[8]

In addition, students who have the opportunity to confront multicultural issues in the classroom and in extracurricular settings report heightened satisfaction with their overall college experience upon graduation.[9]

[1] Smith et al., 1997

[2] Whitt et al., 2001

[3] Lou & Jamieson Drake, 2009

[4] Pascarella et al., 1996 

[5] Salter & Persaud, 2003

[6] Gurin, 1999; 2002; Pascarella et al., 1996

[7] Lou & Jamieson Drake, 2009

[8] Evans, 2002; Poynter & Lewis, 2003

[9] Astin, 1993