Diversity | Beyond College Rankings


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For many educators, students, and myself, a diverse campus is a crucial part of the learning environment. I put together this ranking using four proxies for diversity. The full methodology is at the bottom.

  1. 1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  2. 2. Stanford University
  3. 3. University of California, Los Angeles
  4. 4. Amherst College
  5. 5. University of the Pacific
  6. 6. Columbia University
  7. 7. University of Southern California
  8. 8. Yale University
  9. 9. Rice University
  10. 10. University of California, Berkeley
  11. 11. University of California, Davis
  12. 12. Santa Clara University
  13. 13. San Diego St. University
  14. 14. University of Chicago
  15. 15. University of California, Santa Cruz
  16. 16. Emory University
  17. 17. Bryn Mawr College
  18. 18. Swarthmore College
  19. 19. California Institute of Technology
  20. 20. Carnegie Mellon University
  21. 21. Wellesley College
  22. 22. New York University
  23. 23. Mount Holyoke College
  24. 24. Pomona College
  25. 25. Pitzer College
  26. 26. Brown University
  27. 27. University of California, Santa Barbara
  28. 28. Princeton University
  29. 29. Smith College
  30. 30. University of Texas, Austin
  31. 31. Harvard University
  32. 32. Johns Hopkins University
  33. 33. Agnes Scott College
  34. 34. Syracuse University
  35. 35. Cornell University
  36. 36. University of Pennsylvania
  37. 37. University of California, San Diego
  38. 38. Duke University
  39. 39. Northeastern University
  40. 40. Dartmouth University
  41. 41. Boston University
  42. 42. Pepperdine University
  43. 43. Brandeis University
  44. 44. Claremont McKenna College
  45. 45. Rutgers University
  46. 46. University of Washington, Seattle
  47. 47. George Washington University
  48. 48. Georgetown University
  49. 49. Occidental College
  50. 50. Northwestern University
  51. 51. University of Maryland, College Park
  52. 52. Loyola Marymount University
  53. 53. Wesleyan University
  54. 54. Williams College
  55. 55. University of Florida, Gainesville
  56. 56. University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign
  57. 57. Fordham University
  58. 58. College of William and Mary
  59. 59. American University
  60. 60. Tufts University
  61. 61. Grinnell College
  62. 62. Washington University in St. Louis
  63. 63. Lewis and Clark College
  64. 64. Scripps College
  65. 65. Earlham College
  66. 66. Austin College
  67. 67. Case Western Reserve University
  68. 68. Willamette University
  69. 69. Bard College
  70. 70. University of Virginia
  71. 71. Harvey Mudd College
  72. 72. Reed College
  73. 73. Boston College
  74. 74. Trinity University
  75. 75. Barnard College
  76. 76. Georgia Institute of Technology
  77. 77. Vanderbilt University
  78. 78. University of Rochester
  79. 79. Trinity College
  80. 80. Sarah Lawrence College
  81. 81. Arizona St. University
  82. 82. Vassar College
  83. 83. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
  84. 84. Colby College
  85. 85. University of Arizona, Tucson
  86. 86. College of New Jersey
  87. 87. Macalester College
  88. 88. Bowdoin College
  89. 89. Haverford College
  90. 90. University of Richmond
  91. 91. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  92. 92. Middlebury College
  93. 93. Carleton College
  94. 94. Lafayette College
  95. 95. Kalamazoo College
  96. 96. Worcester Polytechnic Institute
  97. 97. Florida St. University
  98. 98. Berea College
  99. 99. College of the Holy Cross
  100. 100. Hamilton College



28% of the ranking comes from the size of the largest ethnic group (more points come from a smaller largest group)

28% comes from the size of the third largest ethnic group (more points come from a larger group)

28% comes from the size of the fourth largest ethnic group (more points comes from a larger group)

16% comes from the size of the international student body (more points from a larger group)

The logic here is that a perfectly diverse school would have equal percentages of students from all backgrounds; there would be no majorities or minorities. The size of the largest ethnic group is important, because the smaller the largest group, the more other people there are. I skipped the size of the second group, because if a school has 50% of one group and 45% of another group, I would not call that diverse. What IS deeply indicative of diversity are the sizes of the third and fourth most represented groups, and to a lesser extent, the size of the international student body. I considered weighting all of these categories equally, but too often the international group is a buffer for a university to gain students who do not require financial aid. It’s easy for a school to recruit international students for monetary reasons, and while that’s certainly not always the case, and an international presence on campus is wonderful, that small presence does indicate less of an administrative effort to make an inclusive, diverse environment. Note however, that 16% still is a strong piece of the ranking.

There are many many flaws in this ranking – it’s a ranking.

One huge flaw is that ethnic diversity should hardly be considered holistic diversity, and this ranking doesn’t touch things like socioeconomic, religious, political, or any other type of diversity – all of which are important. Likewise, culture is hugely defined by region, and this ranking does not incorporate where schools’ student bodies are from.

Another obvious flaw is that, since (most) colleges draw the vast majority of their students from their local region, the diversity of the region is going to be reflected in the diversity of the school. For instance, if Minnesota’s St. Olaf College had 6% of its student body from a Hispanic background, and California’s Westmont College had 10 % of its student body from a Hispanic background, St. Olaf is doing a much better job of recruiting diversity (Westmont’s percentage is significantly below that of the state of California, and St. Olaf’s is above that of the state of Minnesota). California schools disproportionately score well in this ranking for that reason, as California’s high numbers of multiple minority groups (it’s the third and fourth groups that make the difference) increase the odds of a school scoring highly on my diversity scale. Also, data on demographics is rightly limited. Many schools have as much as 25% of the student body not responding to survey requests. I actually am not as worried about this, but again, that’s due to my bias. The students that choose to not respond are overwhelmingly those who challenge a survey on race or otherwise oppose such social constructions. In other words, students who don’t respond to these tend to be those who themselves promote diversity and equality. Yes, there are MANY assumptions and biases in there, but this is a ranking, and like all rankings, it includes biases. I’m just trying to be transparent about my own.