April 20, 2010

The Truth Behind “Any Person, Any Study”

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Even with the motto “any person, any study”, Cornell has historically ranked as the least diverse university among the Ivies. In 2007, there was a 37.6% enrollment of minorities with 5.1% blacks, 0.5% American Indian or Alaskan Native, 16.5% Asian or Pacific Islander and 5.5% Hispanic. Compared to Columbia, which had a 38.2% minority enrollment in the same year, there is only one solution: we need to do better in enrolling minority undergraduates.

How can this be done? Colleges in Minnesota have been facing the same problems. While many public high schools in Minneapolis are diverse, the colleges in the area do not reflect the same population. However, according to the Higher Chronicle, the amount of racially diverse students has significantly increased in the past few years. This is due to intense recruitment of diverse groups as well as an increase in immigration rates into the state. As a result of this population shift, new programs have been created at the colleges to increase multicultural awareness. For example, at Augsburg College, the recruitment brochure was printed in nine different languages so that students from all over the world would feel comfortable in looking at the college. Efforts have also been taken to integrate different ethnicities and cultures on campus. For example, International Week at Augsburg College has become an important event, unlike in years past. This has allowed minority students to feel like part of a group, instead of like outsiders on campus. Although there is still a long way to go in making all students feel comfortable amongst different cultures, efforts of the administration have made a large impact for the better.

Many foreign students are unaccustomed to life in the state in which they elect to attend college. For example, many students from warm-weather countries do not have the proper attire for the cold they find at schools such as Cornell. Also, American professors take for granted common practices, such as filling in only one right answer on a multiple-choice exam. By helping students in everyday aspects of college life, the students will eventually learn the American ways and fully immerse themselves in the college experience alongside their American peers.

The conscious efforts of American universities have made the transition to the United States much easier on the lives of international students. The next step in the quest towards diversity is employing more international professors. Only time will tell if Cornell and other universities will continue on this path.

Original Author: Rachel Rabinowitz