Finding the right college is about finding the right fit, a place where you can feel at home.

If you care deeply about inclusivity, diversity and representation, you’ll want to choose a college that takes those values seriously. Since nearly every college claims to, you’ll have to do some digging to see if the values on campus truly synch up with your own. 

Looking at diversity statistics among students and faculty is a good start, but it’s possible to dig deeper. Schools that integrate diversity and inclusion policies at every level are places where all students can find opportunities to thrive. How can you find out which schools do just that? Start by asking — and answering — these three key questions. 

Most schools will celebrate diversity on their website and in promotional materials, so it’s important to look beyond the admissions office.

1. How Does School Leadership Handle Conflicts?

When a high-profile conflict around race or inequality arises on campus, what steps does school leadership take to address it? You want a college that responds in a way that shows it appreciates the significance of the situation and does not ignore or dismiss students’ concerns.

Deena Maerowitz, a college adviser at the Bertram Group, suggests starting with these two questions to gauge a school’s methodology for conflict resolution: “Does the college include student or peer decision-making in conflict resolution?” and “Does it consider racism and sexual assault public health issues?” Schools that prioritize diverse voices will likely answer yes to both. 

Jeb Edmondson, student representative for the department of multicultural affairs at the University of North Georgia, says the best people to talk to are members of student government and students involved in the college’s department of diversity and inclusion. “The names of student government members should be available on the school’s website,” says Edmondson. You can also find these students at orientation, recruitment events and on campus tours. 

When talking to them, ask about their experience with conflict resolution and make the conversation broader than just what happens on campus. College life is holistic,” says Edmondson. He suggests learning more about the surrounding town or city and its history with racism or bigotry. Gather specifics on how the college supports students who experience discrimination off campus and what type of community outreach the college engages in to improve situations beyond the campus.

2. What Resources and Support Systems Are Available?

A school that values diversity and inclusion is going to have programs in place that support students from all backgrounds. When talking to school officials or visiting a campus, find out if there is an active Black student union, an LGBTQ center or other clubs, organizations and associations that are positively contributing to a diverse and inclusive culture.

Once you identify these groups, Maerowitz says, the next step is to find out how they’re interconnected. She cites the University of Virginia’s Project Rise as an example. “It was established in 2006 by a group of Black students to support the mental health of students of color on their campus, and it’s connected to both the Office of African-American Affairs and the department of Counseling & Psychological Services on campus,” she says.

It’s also important to look at how well-funded these programs and clubs are. The money spent on them can illuminate how much a school really values diversity on campus, although schools may not be the most forthcoming with this information. “Reaching out to club presidents or student government officials can be an easy inroad [to this information],” says Edmondson, and their names and emails are typically posted on the college’s website. “The easiest way to get this information is to be cordial and conversational, but be prepared to get to the point.” Ask about their feelings regarding the flow of funds to their group and how they request and receive additional funding for new initiatives that are important to their mission. 

3. What Is the Actual Lived Student Experience?

Most schools will celebrate diversity on their website and in promotional materials, so it’s important to look beyond the admissions office. Visiting a campus can give you a lot of insight into the student experience. “An easy way to tell if a university cares about diversity is to see if there are people on campus that represent your background and identity,” says Kevin Fang, CEO of Ivy Guru. Examine the diversity of the interactions you observe: If students appear segregated in the library or dining hall, consider it a red flag. 

It’s also important to talk to students on campus. If introducing yourself or reaching out to current students and alumni over social media feels too intimidating, talk to your high school counselor. They may know a graduate whom they can connect you with who’s now a student at the college you’re considering.

Finally, talk to faculty and employees outside the college’s admissions office. Maerowitz suggests asking questions such as: “Are there people of color working in mental health services support? In career services? Are there orientation programs and ongoing support for first-generation students and students of color, or are they just one-time events?” 

Ultimately, assessing a school’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is very similar to evaluating the other criteria on your college must-have list. You want to do your research, ask revealing questions and be sure you understand how each school on your list stacks up.