Choosing a college is one of the biggest and most difficult decisions you will make in your educational career, and it can be overwhelming if you don’t know where to start. For LGBTQ applicants, however, this decision can become more complicated when factoring in their sexual orientation or gender. We all want to feel accepted and comfortable in our communities, and figuring out which colleges will provide the right environment can be even more difficult for students who identify as LGBTQ.
Luckily, the process of finding the right college is also a fantastic opportunity to find a campus that provides a friendly and welcoming space for you as an LGBTQ student. This is a particularly good opportunity for students who currently do not feel comfortable in their schools or communities. Here are some tips to guide you through the process of applying to colleges as an LGBTQ student, and deciding which colleges provide the right resources for you.
Are they LGBTQ friendly and proud?
One of the first things you can do when researching a college is check out what their website has to offer LGBTQ students. You can get a good idea of where the university stands with the LGBTQ community by how they represent this body of students on their social media accounts and school website. “If they are openly discussing the resources they provide to LGBTQ students, sharing workshops, events, or programs oriented towards LGBTQ student body, there’s a good chance there is an open, friendly, and supportive community on campus,” says Oliver Peterson, teacher at Boomessays and StateOfWriting.
Another way you can assess the college’s support of LGBTQ groups on campus is by calling one of their resource centers and asking directly. Some questions you might ask include:
- Does the school plan events and workshops for LGBTQ students?
- Is there an LGBTQ center or society on campus?
- Are the school’s LGBTQ groups more oriented towards advocacy and activism, or are they more of a social opportunity?
- Does the school offer specialized health resources for LGBTQ students?
Read the fine print
An LGBTQ -friendly university will have policies in place to ensure that all LGBTQ students are protected, safe, and comfortable on campus. To investigate this, you can look to see if the college has a non-discrimination policy that includes sexual orientation and gender identity.
If you are transgender or gender non-conforming, you can research what kind of process the college has in place for changing gender markers on official school records.
For LGBTQ students who plan on living in on-campus housing or dorms, look to see if they provide gender-neutral housing and gender-neutral bathrooms.
Get a sense of the campus climate
While it’s important that the college has policies and services in place to support the LGBTQ student community, what will shape your experience as an LGBTQ student is the campus climate. The environment and the manner in which the students are treated by other students and professors is fundamental in shaping your experience as a student. Research university crime statistics towards LGBTQ students, read campus newsletters or blog posts, and listen to the campus radio stations. It’s really important to see what students say about LGBTQ issues.
If you can visit the campus, visit the LGBTQ student center or ask their admissions office if there is a student representative you can speak with.
Applying as an out LGBTQ student
Unfortunately, there is no simple formula or process for being out during the process of applying to colleges. It’s really important to make this decision on your own, but it’s important to note that while many colleges are totally accepting of students with LGBTQ identities, some might not be. “Some students choose to mention their identity as an LGBTQ student in their Common Application essays, but that is a very personal and individual choice. Many students feel that there is no obligation to disclose sexual identity, whether straight or LGBTQ, in the application process,” says Bella Thomson, educator at Paperfellows and Australianhelp.
Ultimately, you deserve to feel safe, free, and comfortable on campus, in housing, in the classroom, and in any campus facilities. You should feel comfortable being an LGBTQ athlete, artist, or engineer, and should be welcome in all societies and spaces on campus. Often, the campus climate and culture will impact your experience significantly, so keep this all in mind throughout the application process.
Beatrix Potter is a professional writer at Academized and Essayroo writing services. She is a student athlete who enjoys swimming, traveling, and tutoring students on campus and at Essay Service website.