University of Maryland—Baltimore County has a similar setup.
"A number of campuses do what we do in terms of having living-learning floors where people in the residence hall bring the members of the floor together to work on projects and to get to know each other," says school President Freeman A. Hrabowski III, who is also the chair of President Barack Obama's Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans.
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During a campus visit, Hrabowski encourages minority students to ask to meet people with a background similar to their own in the major they may also pursue. Prospective students should also ask seniors if they would still choose that school if they could go back in time and select a different university.
Reading up on a school's economic makeup can also be revealing, says Kahlenberg of The Century Foundation.
"Prospective students can do that by looking at the percentage of students who receive Pell Grants, which is public information," he says, referring to the federal grant program open to undergraduate students.
"There are a lot of universities that are nicely diverse by race but almost everyone is wealthy," says Kahlenberg. "To my mind, that's not a full, complete sense of diversity."
Kahlenberg, who once taught law at George Washington University, says the benefits of diversity efforts have a broad reach.
"When students come with different sets of life experience, that can help enrich the discussion and the learning in the classroom in a way that benefits everyone," he says.
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