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Diversity of Thought

In my search for the right graduate school I met many different schools, and in this search the question was always raised in some way: "what is diversity like at the school." It's a really reasonable, and quite important, question when considering higher education, but unfortunately, the answer was always expressed as some variation of: "we have X-number of international students and Y-number of underrepresented students." Although an acceptable surface-level answer, I was always disappointed to find that this is where the conversation stopped--ethnicity and race, maybe age and gender.

From day one, Carlson was different. Here at Carlson diversity is not defined exclusively by questions on the first section of the FAFSA, our appreciation for diversity and the value it brings to the classroom goes so much deeper than that. As an institution of higher education, Carlson understands the value of different perspectives and, when seeking to put together the ideal incoming class, goes all distances to make sure there is something to be learned from everyone. What I have derived from my education because of this, because I can come to school every day and learn something new from every single one of my peers, is immeasurable.

A classmate of mine is fresh out of college and his perspective on the education system is enlightening; another peer worked for nearly two decades before coming back to school and he has some wonderful stories about the changing work environment; some worked at hugely successful corporations and others learned their lessons at small startups; a few are entrepreneurs, some attorneys, and a doctor; college athletes, bilingual, trilingual, or service men/women; some have been married for years, one was married a few weeks into school, others have kids; many are close to home, many more are far from it; several techies, a few Apple-addicts, and one die-hard Microsoft fan; a CPA, engineers, and a former teacher; a few play soccer, others basketball, one is on a curling team; at the end of the day, we all have the most unique of experiences--even those who seem similar on the surface are really a million miles apart.

Now, sharing this is all fine and well, but what value does it hold? The answer: more than I could ever tell you in a blog post. Seeing something from a different perspective brings a whole new light to every issue: approaching it as a father is different from an engineer or a lawyer, and so on. You can spend all day reading books and listening to the greatest professors of all time, you can fill the room with 4.0-students and GMAT-rockstars, but if someone doesn't give you a new way to look at things, the lesson holds little value; on the flip side: if 107 people can give you a new way to look at something, the lesson then becomes genuine, and priceless. Every lesson we learn at Carlson, no matter how mundane or complex, old or new, we get to internalize it with 107 different viewpoints, and there is the value.

A room full of upper-middle-class white males may have its place somewhere in higher education, it's just not at Carlson.

And so, my advice to you, blog-readers, is to look around, wherever you go, and ask yourself "where is the diversity of thought?" The answer will tell you a lot more about the value you'll find there than any statistics in any pamphlet ever could.

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