Nedda Gilbert, MSW, Educational Consultant, and Author
The best way to feel comfortable given your background, and just as important your_ identity_, is to seek out a college that is as diverse and even international as possible. You mention you would not be comfortable with a mix of international students alone. I understand. However, their presence adds to the rich diversity of a school and suggests the college has made it a point to make their campus welcoming to a range of people and backgrounds. This IS the kind of campus you belong on - where the school ethos is clearly visible, and there is a comfortable vibe in the student body.
I can think of several schools where you would be one of many students - a sizable number - with a unique multi-cultural, multi-national, muti-racial background. Although you should research school life, demographic make-up and club offerings to identify organizations and groups you could possibly join at any given school, I don't think finding a few isolated clubs is an acceptable goal.
Seek out those schools where you will find many students like yourself, with a mix of unique backgrounds/ethnicities, where differences are not just embraced, but part of the daily face of the student population. Going to school with daily diversity is better than trying to seek out pockets of the student population, or just a multi-cultural center in which to feel comfortable. Why not feel comfortable in your dorms, in your classes, in everyday interactions? To get a sense of what this might feel and look like for you, perhaps you might visit some of these schools:
- Columbia University (New York City)
- University of Pennsylvania
- New York University
- Rice University
- Rutgers University
- UC Davis, Santa Barbara, and Berkeley
These schools boast a mix of incredibly diverse students. The above list is by no means complete, nor are these your only options. But if you walk the campus of say UPenn or UCLA, you will at least have a sense of what it should look and feel life. The trick is to find a school authentically full of a happy mix of different types of students. Fortunately, there are plenty of them