A couple of weeks ago, I read a study by the New York Times that my friend recommended to me. The study exposed the different levels of economic diversity on college and university campuses. Among the colleges and universities that were examined, Skidmore College’s economic diversity, or lack thereof, was the most shocking to me.
I have always gotten the sense that Skidmore students, including myself, are well-off to some degree. This is evident from the clothes that most of us wear to the cars that many of us drive. However, the numbers that this study exposed give a more accurate representation of wealth here.
Skidmore prides itself on its constant mission to increase the diversity of the student body by making a conscious effort to enroll students from marginalized communities. However, it doesn’t seem that this mission has been successful in increasing economic diversity. Skidmore should increase its economic diversity because if more students from a lower income bracket are enrolled, more diversity across other areas of life will emerge at Skidmore.
Let’s look at the numbers:
Out of 71 highly selective, private colleges and universities, Skidmore College ranks 4thin median family income:
- Colorado College: $277,500 median income
- Trinity College: $257,000 median income
- Pitzer College: $216,600 median income
- Skidmore College: $208,700 median income
- Elon University: $208,300 median income
These numbers are even more jarring when examined next to the following stats, which expose how many students come from each income bracket at Skidmore:
- 15%: top 1% income bracket
- 47%: top 5% income bracket
- 60%: top 10% income bracket
- 72%: top 20% income bracket
- 3.4%: bottom 20% income bracket
The study then went on to examine which income brackets Skidmore students tend to fall into after they graduate:
- 4.2% will fall into the top 1% income bracket
- 15% will fall into the top 5% income bracket
- 26% will fall into the top 10% income bracket
- 43% will fall into the top 20% income bracket
- 11% will fall into the bottom 20% income bracket
So, what do all these numbers mean?
In general, money means access, and access means opportunity. Students from higher income brackets tend to have more opportunity when it comes to where they go to school, among other things. However, it shouldn’t always be this way.
Furthermore, having a diverse student body means more than having a higher percentage of domestic students of color or students of other marginalized identities. Diversity in action should also mean giving opportunities to those who don’t have access and money to quality, educational resources. Skidmore needs to take this fully into consideration, especially because they pride themselves so highly on maintaining diversity of the student body.