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How Important is Geographic Diversity When Choosing a College?


This winter, the University of Northern Colorado hosted a great program for Colorado counselors to come and learn about their campus. We had the chance to speak with faculty, take a tour, visit the business school, and learn about their admissions process.
The University of Northern Colorado is a midsize university of about 10,000 undergraduate students and 2,000 graduates in Greeley, Colorado. It is a campus dedicated to providing an excellent education at a reasonable cost. In fact, it has the lowest cost of any major university in Colorado. Greeley is a small city about a half hour from Fort Collins and an hour from Denver and is surrounded by farmland (hence the smell of cows you can’t miss upon arrival).
The University of Northern Colorado has some incredible programs to choose from. Its nursing, elementary education, business, performing arts, and athletic training programs are top notch. Add in a beautiful new residence hall that looks like a hotel, a spirited student body (cheer for the Bears) and small class sizes with personal attention and you’ve got a lot of great things to explore. Overall, I was impressed with what UNC had to offer to students and was pleasantly surprised by the caliber and competitiveness of some of their programs and dedication of the faculty and staff with whom I had the chance to interact.
However, as you are looking at colleges one question you may want to ask yourself is – how important is the geographic diversity of a campus? Geographic diversity refers to where the students who attend the college are coming from. For example, at UNC, close to 90% of the students who attend are from the state of Colorado. How do you think this impacts the classroom discussion or life on campus? As you look at colleges you may decide for yourself that you are perfectly happy being surrounded by students who grew up in the same place you did. In addition, you may have a good understanding that even though a majority are from Colorado, a student who grew up in rural eastern CO, the mountains of western CO, and in urban Denver all bring different perspective to the table. It may also prompt you to ask questions about what other types of diversity exist on the campus. For example, while UNC may be lacking in geographic diversity they do offer diversity in another sense. Almost 40% of their students are first generation students meaning they are the first in their family to go to college.
Juniors, as you conduct your college visits this spring and summer don’t forget to ask the tour guide, and yourself, the tough questions!


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