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Why we chose an HBCU

Photo+provided+by%3A+Historically+Black+Colleges%3B+Graduation+of+2016+
Photo provided by: Historically Black Colleges; Graduation of 2016

Photo provided by: Historically Black Colleges; Graduation of 2016

Photo provided by: Historically Black Colleges; Graduation of 2016

Kayla Mitchell & Jazmyn Davis, Staff Writer and News Editor

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“You want to go to a black school? But why? You’re so smart. You shouldn’t limit yourself.”

This was one of many similar reactions we got when we announced that attending a Historically Black College or University (HBCU) was on our radar. We know that many thought they were complimenting us, implying that we are too good for an HBCU, but it was actually insulting.  

While we make our journey towards graduation from high school, we know that we would like to attend an accredited 4-year college or university to obtain a degree that will determine our futures, specifically at an HBCU.

HBCUs are institutions of higher education that were established prior to 1964 with the intentions of serving Black communities with equal educational opportunities. Initially, these institutions were founded and developed in an era of legal segregation by providing access to higher education. Throughout the years, they have contributed substantially to the progress Black people have made in improving their socioeconomic status.

The common misconception that plagues the reputations of HBCUs is the idea that they’re “segregated”, due to them being majority black populated institutions.

While HBCUs were originally founded to educate Black students, they have historically enrolled students of other races as well. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2015, non-Black students made up 22 percent of enrollment at HBCUs.

Although HBCUs were created in the midst of legal segregation, they have served to stand at the forefront of many young Black students’ futures, past and present.

Despite their undeniable success rate, there is an abundance of stereotypes to keep people from supporting HBCUs.  

Students who desire to attend an HBCU often hear that they are merely party schools who lower their admission standards to target prospective students while limiting themselves with their lack of diversity, which equates to little or no success.

Jaida Smith, alumni of Da Vinci Communications and freshman at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, argued that “any school that you are interested in are ‘party schools’, but it is more about you making the right decisions about what you want to do and when you want to do it.”

LaToya Aguilera, alumni of Xavier University in New Orleans, Louisiana believes that these assumptions are made because of the lack of knowledge and ignorance to the history behind HBCUs and all that they have contributed to American society, for many people, including African Americans.

“Although HBCUs lower their standards to get in, it is definitely harder to stay in,” Aguilera said. “HBCUs push for higher education and the success of their students while providing an experience like no other.”

It’s unnerving that certain people would assume they wouldn’t be just as successful in life graduating from an HBCU as opposed to any other college. Over half of all Black professionals are graduates of an HBCU. Blindly associating the term “historically black” with “less opportunity” undermines the crucial history of HBCUs and their sole purpose of developing an institution where Black students know they have a chance.

Donoven Bryant, a sophomore at Tuskegee University in Tuskegee, Alabama, chose an HBCU to get the experience of a lifetime, one that he wouldn’t receive at another college domestically or internationally.

“Other schools have lectures where the student is a small fish in a big pond, whereas, at an HBCU, you get individualized attention,” Bryant contended. “Not only do the professors know you on a first name basis, but you gain a certain confidence that when you walk into a room full of people who do not look like you, you know you have a purpose in being there and will excel.”

African American students that are often academically victorious are pushed to attend a PWI (Predominately White Institution), which consist mostly of white students, with “sprinkles” of different races such as African Americans, Latino/a ,Asians, and so on. When considering these schools many Black students search to see if there is anyone on campus that looks akin to them and to show this these schools “promote diversity” by placing a group of minorities into a photo, while the demographics continue to display a tiny percentage of Black student attendance. With that, it’s a contradiction to belittle HBCUs for “lack of diversity”.

From producing some of the most prosperous lawyers, politicians, doctors, intruders, and entertainment leaders, HBCUs have a long history of educating some of the nation’s brightest professionals. Many of these institutions rarely get recognition for their contribution to America’s workforce, however,  schools like Harvard, Yale and Princeton are always praised.

Many graduates of HBCUs have significantly enhanced our countries such as Oprah Winfrey, chairman, and CEO of Harpo Productions, who graduated from Tennessee State University and Nick Giovanni, the famed poet, and writer, who graduated from Fisk University. Spelman College Graduate, Rosalind Brewer, was the first Black woman to hold a CEO position at one of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. business units making it another success for Black affluence. David Satcher, is a Surgeon General who graduated from Morehouse College Graduate, definitely leaving his mark and John W. Thompson, was the first Black chairman of Microsoft Corporation, who graduated from Florida A&M University. These individuals are the many graduates of HBCUs that have significantly enhanced our country.

From a young age, we’ve taken interest in HBCUs and it’s the familial atmosphere, the independence, the fraternities and sororities are what brought us in.

There is something powerful about attending an institution that was built for you. Though this notion will not be outwardly said or acknowledged, most colleges were built for white students, or at least, with only white students in mind. Within these HBCUs, we both found a place for ourselves in the curriculum, and an opening to learn what it means to be “us”.

 

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5 Comments

5 Responses to “Why we chose an HBCU”

  1. Cierra Pringle on December 1st, 2017 9:59 am

    This provided lots of good information about HBCUs. The info in here is good to know when it is time to apply for colleges and looking for places to go after high school. Thanks for writing this article!

    [Reply]

  2. James Skinner on December 1st, 2017 2:35 pm

    I like how much information you included about HBCUs, and how you talked about how they are good for colored students and give all people a chance. (:

    [Reply]

  3. Martina Flores on December 1st, 2017 2:36 pm

    I love this article soo much you guys. You both did a great job in providing a lot of insight about something that is really misunderstood, HBCU’s are fantastic colleges and can be just as great, if not more, as any other college. Again, wonderful job 🙂

    [Reply]

  4. Noël on December 1st, 2017 4:54 pm

    Kayla, thank you for such a well-written article!

    [Reply]

  5. Merit Abshire on December 1st, 2017 6:13 pm

    HBCUs give everyone a chance to enhance their education both in the classroom and diversity in our country. Black students don’t deserve to be expected among “higher” standards enforced by assumingly priveleged white people because a university contains the name “black”. The information you guys supplied in this publication was eye opening and beautifully written. It’s good to see an educative article to help students who have a negative bias on predominantly black schools because they fear the “segregated” concept corrupts what America is apparently trying to enhance. One of my favourite articles so far!

    [Reply]

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