Diversity is essential for creating a healthy and thriving independent or private school environment. Engaging with students and faculty from other races, genders, backgrounds, and socioeconomic groups enriches students’ educational experience and helps foster a culture of empathy and acceptance. Not only will this benefit everyone at your school, but it will also help you attract families far and wide.
But successfully cultivating a diverse environment means you need to focus on inclusion at every point of the admissions process.
What does that look like, and how can you begin improving school diversity in your institution? Here’s what you need to know:
Why is it So Critical to Make Your Admissions Process More Inclusive?
Several decades of research show racially and socioeconomically integrated schools boast stronger test scores, increased college attendance, and cognitive improvements among students, like better critical-thinking skills, according to The Atlantic.
That’s because having multiple voices and perspectives on campus introduces students to new ideas and different ways of thinking — something they may not experience if they only associate with students from similar backgrounds.
Furthermore, diversity begets diversity. If you have little-to-no diversity within your student body, it may dissuade families from attending — particularly if they don’t feel seen, understood, or welcome. Conversely, a highly inclusive school with a varied student body will attract families from different backgrounds and help you build an increasingly diverse environment.
And while everyone has a responsibility to promote an inclusive culture, creating more school diversity begins with your admissions and enrollment processes.
7 Ways to Fight for Diversity and Inclusion at Your School
Here are a few ways you can promote greater school diversity through your admissions and enrollment efforts:
1. Talk about it
The first step to building a more diverse and inclusive institution is to bring the topic to the forefront of your admissions conversations. Ensure it’s not an afterthought, but a primary lens through which school leadership considers your institution’s future.
2. Select ambassadors from diverse backgrounds
Student ambassadors are representatives of your school and champions of your values, programs, and all that your school has to offer. Many of your prospective families will look to your parent and student ambassadors to get to know more about the school from the point of view of a current attendee. Do your ambassadors provide diverse perspectives and represent every family at your school?
3. Review your marketing
Take time to consider your website, social media, and any marketing collateral you use to attract new students. Pay special attention to imagery. Who is represented, and who is not? If families don’t see themselves reflected in your marketing, they’ll likely go elsewhere.
4. Focus on more diverse hiring practices
Now is an excellent time to re-examine your hiring processes and strategies, and ensure they align with your diversity goals. What are you doing to help attract a more diverse faculty and staff? How are you ensuring new hires feel seen, accepted, and valued?
5. Encourage clubs
Diversity shouldn’t just be a checkbox — it should be a pillar of your school. And one of the best ways to celebrate and embrace diversity as a core tenet is to encourage clubs and groups. This allows students to bond with other students from similar backgrounds, and share their culture with others. Make sure you highlight a variety and diverse mix of clubs throughout the admissions process so prospective families see that diversity is passionately encouraged on a variety of levels.
6. Ensure diversity within selection and retention committees
It’s nearly impossible to cultivate inclusion and diversity without making certain your admissions and enrollment decision-making committees are composed of diverse groups of people. From admissions through retention, make certain you’re providing space for a broad range of perspectives — and ensure prospective and current students’ families have an opportunity to engage with a diverse group of professionals.
7. Offer financial aid to underserved communities
True diversity means ensuring more equitable access across all communities and socioeconomic groups. When possible, offer financial aid to underserved communities to help level the playing field, ensure greater representation, and offer top-quality education to students who may not otherwise have the opportunity.
School diversity is essential for creating a sustainable and enriching educational environment. It will also help prepare students for success in our diverse society. But it’s not something you can achieve overnight — nor is the work ever entirely “done.” To create a genuinely inclusive institution, you’ll need to be mindful of how you present your school, the values you promote, and the processes you take to attract and retain your families. You should also make sure your school admissions software can help you reduce bias throughout the admissions process.