Historically, there have been many efforts to diversify higher education student populations in the belief that such efforts help to fulfill valid and essential educational needs and societal goals. Racial and ethnic diversity enriches the educational experience of the entire student body by integrating experiences, beliefs, and perspectives different from the white mainstream norm. The ability of students to communicate effectively with people of varied backgrounds is enhanced. Education within a diverse setting prepares students for the increasingly complex, pluralistic workplace. Respecting the contributions, talents and abilities of all citizens from diverse backgrounds and cultures will strengthen the ability of American businesses and non-profit organizations to respond effectively to the increasingly competitive global economic community. As our society's population continues to diversify racially, it is imperative that higher education institutions reflect this changing balance within their own student populations. Despite affirmative action programs, recruitment and advertisements through non-mainstream mediums, scholarships for minority students, and networking at conferences of interest to people of color, the overall proportion of minority students remains small. Interviewing admissions directors and counselors of higher education institutions will help identify strategies to overcome obstacles to diversifying student populations in graduate programs. This paper explores what recruitment strategies are being used to increase student racial diversity in graduate programs in higher education in the United States. In addition, this study looks for what are the obstacles to increasing diversity and how to overcome them? This has been done by interviewing admissions professionals at graduate schools with similar programs and student population size. The conclusion of this study demonstrates the overwhelming need of an instituion-wide commitment with a clear mission statement stating the desire to have a diverse campus. In addition, leadership support and innitiative, a comprehensive plan with objectives and a system to track and evaluate those objectives, as well as a clear marketing plan to increase specific under-represented groups, and a knowledge of the importance that none of this can be done alone. Finally, the commitment to increase racial diversity on campus needs to be tied to overall diversity and not left only as the responsibility of the admissions office alone.
Lyons, Michael F., "Overcoming obstacles to diversifying graduate admissions" (1999). Capstone Collection. 558.