By The Editorial Board
Who do you think of when you think of a Baylor student? Chances are, you’re picturing a white, Protestant and, likely, rich Texan. Many stereotypes are rooted in some level of truth, and while the student described here can certainly be found on Baylor’s campus many times over, that does not mean everyone fits the same mold — not by a long shot.
Baylor’s campus is increasingly diverse and female-dominated. According to College Factual, women make up just under 60% of the student population. You’re not entirely wrong to think of the typical Baylor student as white, as 61% of students fit that category. That being said, 39% of students are people of color, and that is not insignificant; in fact, it is the most diverse student body Baylor has ever hosted.
Students identifying as Protestant make up a significant majority of the university. Just last year, more than 65% of the incoming class fell into this category. This statistic does not necessarily reflect the entire campus, but it is a fairly reliable indicator of religious trends at Baylor. First, keep in mind “Protestant religion” does not simply mean Baptist; it covers a massive spectrum of Christian diversity. Outside of that, 35% of students do not identify this way, which is, once again, not a small number.
When it comes to all Baylor students being wealthy, well, it’s just not true. The university claims that “very few students pay the full tuition ‘sticker price’ and are able to fund their education through various scholarships, financial aid, loans and payment plans.” Sure, this doesn’t necessarily mean rich students aren’t also on scholarships, but we would venture to say that many students reading this don’t fit that description.
Texans certainly fit the bill for a majority of Baylor students, but the total number of out-of-state students has been rising, and as of last year, it reached 41% across the student body. Let’s be honest, when you meet new people on campus, it seems like you hear “I’m from Orange County” as much as “I’m from Texas” these days.
Driving that point forward even more, every single member of this editorial board is on some form of scholarship or using some form of financial aid — and that’s nothing to be ashamed of. It’s called trying to save money.
This article is not trying to say anyone who fits a Baylor stereotype is doing something wrong, because they aren’t. So then, what’s the point?
The diversity that exists (and is increasing) is the DNA of Baylor — and not simply racial diversity, but also financial, geographical and religious diversity. It is important to recognize this fact and perhaps alter the stereotypes we can never live up to, even though we have created them for ourselves.
Whether you do or don’t fit the picture of a “typical Baylor Bear,” you’re not alone. Letting go of the misguided assumptions you hold will not only give you a more accurate outlook of your home here in Waco but will also serve as a healthy first step to being content with yourself.
Finally, take this article as a chance to realize that most every other school has its own stereotypes and, similarly, has its own data to shatter them (except TCU, Texas and Texas A&M — everything you think about them is true).