Prospective students explore Lawrence on a campus tour. Photo by Larissa Davis
On the first day of reading period, Thursday, Oct. 20, even though many Lawrentians were away from campus, Lawrence welcomed many high school students on the first Visit Day of the year. Although prospective students could not attend classes, they still got to experience some of the Lawrence difference by spending time with overnight hosts, attending presentations and talking to admissions counselors, Lawrentians and fellow prospective students. This is also a great opportunity to observe the Admissions Office’s new efforts to increase diversity amongst Lawrentians by making Lawrence more accessible, friendly and affordable to all. These efforts are amongst many that Lawrence is doing to encourage greater diversity.
Talking to us, prospective students shared how they had been navigating their college search so far and the role that diversity had played in that search.
Grace Lehman from Roseville, Wis. shared with us her excitement about potentially being in the Conservatory. “It’s a dog-friendly campus,” she added. Lehman was also most impressed that “people all have a shared passion here.” According to Lehman, despite people’s different backgrounds, everyone seemed connected by a passion for learning. Explaining why diversity on college campus is important to her, Lehman said “if there isn’t diversity, it’s going to be boring.”
Thatcher Donovan, from St. Louis Park, Minn., talked about the dual-degree program and the small-class structure. Commenting on the campus culture, Donovan said “People aren’t all necessarily high and mighty, but down-to-earth, I’ve seen that a lot here.”
Explaining how this visit had influenced him, Thatcher stated, “People aren’t all upper-class or all white here,” and then completed his thought in saying, “When you’re in a place that’s primarily homogenous, it becomes sort of like an echo chamber, and when you have multiple groups of people who all come together in a community, it creates a big and welcoming feeling.”
Junior Lauren McLester-Davis, a student employee in the Admissions Office, emphasized the importance of diversity in the work she has been doing. McLester-Davis is specifically on the Inclusivity, Diversity, Equity and Access (IDEA) Team, which is a group of Lawrentians working to help high school students of diverse backgrounds in their college application process. They host projects and events which focus on diversity and work within the community to find ways to support these prospective students.
“This prospective student visit is one of three events this month to increase the application process for such students,” McLester-Davis stated. “We’re able to connect those students with different resources on campus so they can get a sense of what it would be like. The Diversity Center has office hours where students can come in on the visit days and learn about what diversity at Lawrence looks like.”
According to McLester-Davis, diversity is a campus priority. “I think as an educational institution, it’s really key for us to be able to educate everyone on this subject, which is something I’m really passionate about,” she commented. While Lawrence still has strides to make in order to attain diversity, there are groups like the IDEA team and people like Lauren working for that diversity, as it is of value both to prospective and current students.
The presence of diversity allows for greater depth and breadth of perspectives to be shared and experienced. As the pursuit of diversity continues by all Lawrentians, it is essential to be aware of the value of diversity, understanding its significance in the growth of a community.