Exposure to Diversity Adds Value to College Degree, Poll Shows

Results from a recent Gallup-Purdue Index reveal that interacting with people from diverse backgrounds increases the perceived value of a college degree.

Released on Tuesday, the findings represent another installment of results based on the 2015 Gallup-Purdue Index’s survey or more than 30,000 college graduates from across the country.

In the survey, graduates of public institutions said they were more likely to experience diversity, and graduates who said they had exposure to people of diverse backgrounds were more likely to be engaged in their jobs and say that their degree was worth the expense.

Specifically, 49 percent of graduates of public institutions claimed they were exposed to diversity, compared to 41 percent of private nonprofit graduates and 46 percent of private for-profit graduates.

Exposure to diverse groups was also tied to how graduates perceived the worth of their college degree and their current job engagement. More than half of recent college graduates (55 percent) who said they are engaged in their current occupations “strongly agreed” that they interacted regularly with people from diverse backgrounds while in college.

Those alumni were also more than two times more likely to believe their college degree was worth the cost than those who said they did not interact with people from diverse backgrounds.

The results serve as motivation for students and institutions to be intentional when it comes to diversity, Pam Horne, vice provost for enrollment management at Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis, told the Lafayette Journal & Courier.

She believes that universities need to create opportunities for students to engage with peer groups — which include students from backgrounds different from their own — outside their normal circles. Some examples she provides are forums and community service projects in which diverse groups can work together — which she believes will challenge students.

“It’s important for them in their college career to move beyond their comfort zone,” Horne said. “It can be natural and easy to … socialize with students who have similar backgrounds.”