Ask a business school graduate what they enjoyed the most about their classroom experience and the answer may surprise you. It’s often not the amazing professor they had or the business knowledge they learned. It’s the richness of diversity in their classroom and how it shaped their education.
What do you picture when you think of a diverse classroom? If race is the first thing that comes to mind, that’s just one component of diversity. A diverse classroom is one full of different types of students in every possible way. They are from different countries and cultures around the world. Their backgrounds are in every type of undergraduate major and industry imaginable. They’re different ages and are at different life stages. And every single one of them has a unique perspective to offer to the classroom.
Why does diversity in the classroom matter so much?
- You’re exposed to different beliefs. Not everyone will think like you in your business school classroom, which is invaluable. During classroom discussions, your classmates will bring up points you never even considered, rooted in experiences you’ve never had. Some of these points will push you to become stronger and learn how to approach a challenge from a different mindset. You’ll find your own beliefs and perspectives being slowly expanded by your classroom experience.
- You gain a network of varying areas of expertise. Your classmates will have backgrounds in industries around the world. Discussing a business case about finance in China? Maybe you’ll have a Chinese student with a financial background. Learning about nonprofits? A former nonprofit employee turned business school student will be happy to help! Diversity in the classroom is linked to better learning outcomes because of the wealth of insights you’ll gain. It also doesn’t hurt that you’ll be building a network with a wealth of expertise!
- You learn to become a stronger leader. It may not feel like it now, but you’ll get to a point where you’re the manager of multiple employees. These employees will be, you guessed it, diverse in every way imaginable. From your perspectives gained in business school, you’ll understand their differing viewpoints and know how to be a more effective leader.
- You’re better prepared for the real world. It’s a diverse world out there. As more and more businesses realize the link between diversity and better business decisions, you’ll work in an increasingly diverse workplace. A workplace that looks a lot like your business school classroom.
When thinking about diversity in the classroom, remember that you are diverse too. Whether you realize it or not, there is something in your background that’ll contribute to the classroom in a new and exciting way. And everyone’s diversity will make the classroom just that much stronger.