I recently did an interview with US News: Education. The article was released today, Graduate Schools’ Political Leanings Concern Some Students. The report that “Simon Tam, an MBA student at Marylhurst University in Oregon, says it’s important for applicants to consider all aspects of a prospective school’s culture. “It can be a more enjoyable experience to find an environment that believes in similar values and principles as well as attracts like-minded students to their program,” he says. That’s particularly true for graduate students, whose peers will become their network for job or client referrals, he says.”
Of course, they cut out my over-arching point: it’s important to learn from perspectives other than your own.
When choosing a school, I think it’s important for students to consider all aspects of the school’s culture. It can be a more enjoyable experience to find an environment that believes in similar values and principles as well as attracts like-minded students to their program. At a graduate level, a student’s peers will often become their future network that they’ll be able to rely on for job/client referrals, partnerships, or to learn from. Furthermore, if the student wants to focus on their education without political posturing, then it would be important to connect with an institution that remains neutral.
However, I believe that sometimes it is even more important to consider a school that doesn’t necessarily align with one’s worldview in order to expand their frame of reference, learn about other cultures/ideas/belief systems, etc. That kind of experience can assist with endeavors such as cross-cultural studies, negotiations, or learning how to connect with others. For those who believe in exploration or have a passion to learn about new ideas, enrolling into a school because of a different way of thinking/political beliefs can be a great way to learn. For those who are involved with politics and enjoy that realm, it can also be a factor to consider.