Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Unidimensional Diversity...

...is not diversity. *note: the focus here is on collegiate level education* A truly diverse scholastic environment offers a setting for multi-dimensional learning and extracurricular growth.

Diversity is also important in an individual's portfolio. Many have heard this argument and agree. However, when they look at a portfolio, somehow they think of multidimensinoal diversity. If you have enough money, you should put some away in diverse assets. Some dimensions of diversity here include:
beta
term (short, medium, long)
type (stock, bond, savings, mutual fund, futures, precious metals)
risk
cash

Schools often focus on race as their unidimensional indicator of diversity. However, if you have a school that is half black and half asian, it may not be diverse at all...or, it could be VERY diverse. Possible other dimensions of diversity for schools include:
income
geographic (not just in- vs. out-of- state, but intrastate locations and internationals)
age
academic credentials
majors/strengths (e.g. standardized tests vs. GPA)/extracurricular interests/talents
religion
social skills
foreign language proficiency
drug use
community involvement

While it is easy to measure racial diversity for a school, there are not established metrics for some of the other dimensions. And you can drill down...community involvement could be with children or elderly people, sporting teams or Habitat for Humanity, or any type of non-profit organization. Drug use could vary from daily use of cocaine to recreational use of marijuana.

SO, since a percentage of each minority really tells us only a small part of the picture, I suggest that schools stop concerning themselves with it or start giving data on some of the easier-to-measure metrics such as SAT scores, religion, and income ranges of students.
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