A reader recently wrote in asking if we could write about diversity weekends and how they play a role in the highly selective college admissions process. For those unfamiliar with diversity weekends, they’re weekends in which colleges will invite students, often underrepresented minorities (URMs in college admissions speak), to special weekends at the schools. Sometimes colleges will fly students out on their own dime or arrange other means of transportation, in the hope of encouraging these students to apply to the schools.
Does that mean that these students will gain admission to the schools? Absolutely not. As our loyal readers know, highly selective colleges are always out to manipulate the all-important “US News & World Report” rankings. They want to encourage as many students to apply as possible, to invariably decrease their acceptance rate and improve their standing in the rankings. But the reason they’re willing to sometimes fly these students out is because they very much want African American, Latino, and Native American applicants in particular to apply.
If a student happens to be African American, Latino, or Native American but isn’t offered a slot in one of these diversity weekends, that doesn’t mean this student doesn’t have a good shot at admission to the university. It’s no indication of anything in fact. As an example, sometimes a school won’t allow a student who happens to be an underrepresented minority to attend one of these weekends if the school feels the student comes from an affluent place. Universities only have so much budgeted for these diversity weekends so they often wish to earmark their dollars toward students who really couldn’t afford to visit the school and who may otherwise not have applied. They’re being smart with their finances.