Opinion: Yes, I am sure that I want to go to college there

By Brooke Hisrich — “Are you sure you want to go to college there? You know the lifestyle of those kind of people is quite different from the northerners.”

This was the response of one of my close relatives after I told them I am attending Clemson University in South Carolina. I was instantly angered by their close-minded perspective on the state of South Carolina and Southerners in general; I wasn’t aware that even in the 21st century prejudices of the South still exist.

After further analysis, I recognized it isn’t only Clemson University that has a predetermined label that only increases prejudices and segregation. All universities are stereotyped for certain characteristics: the geniuses go to Harvard, beach lovers go to UCLA, and the University of Colorado may or may not be dubbed a party school. However, when these stereotypes lead people to generalize an entire institution and all the people that attend there, I begin to see a problem.

Moreover, these conflicts extend far beyond universities across the United States. While the location led to a stereotype for Clemson University, many factors can lead someone to oversimplify a program. For example, people often associate cheerleaders as popular and preppy and Speech and Debate competitors as nerds; and sadly, all of these stereotypes negatively affect their programs. These labels that are often strictly correlated with programs and universities are limiting the application pool or their members and participants to the same kind of individual. If individuals started to branch out to participate in different affiliations, the diversity among programs would drastically increase.

The moral of this column is actually quite simple: don’t let the stereotypes lead to prejudices that segregate programs or universities into one “type” of person because everything improves with a little diversity. Ignore categorization, and welcome the idea of being able to fit in anywhere because not one individual is identical to the next. How boring would that be?

[Updated Aug. 7, 2017: This article has been reformatted for consistency.]