As students approach the end of their high school careers, they’re faced with the conundrum of determining which college or university they would like to attend. There are various factors to take into consideration while selecting schools, including cost, location, student population, athletics, academics, extracurriculars, networks, and campus life. If you’re interested in a college that will fulfill all your desires, you may want to consider attending a Historically Black College or University (HBCU).
For over a century, HBCUs across the country have played an essential role in educating students of color—particularly African Americans—while helping them pursue professional careers. Despite HBCUs being created to accommodate Black students, people from all backgrounds can reap the benefits of these renowned institutions. Here are five reasons why an HBCU could prove to be an incredible choice for you.
HBCUs are generally more affordable than Predominantly White Institutions (PWIs). Although tuition fees differ by institution, the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) reports students paid an average total cost of attendance that was 26% lower than other four-year nonprofit colleges. This not only makes college accessible to low- and middle-income students but also helps close the racial wealth gap. According to the Education Data Initiative, African American college graduates owe an average of $25,000 more in student loan debt than their White counterparts. As a result of the numerous forms of financial assistance offered by HBCUs, student debt for low-income households could be reduced significantly.
HBCUs are diverse—students of all races and ethnicities across the globe attend and thrive at these institutions. Therefore, a wide range of unique cultures and perspectives are present within their student bodies. In addition, HBCU campus culture encompasses many aspects of Black culture—including music, art, and literature—to help celebrate Black students and teach students of other races more about it. As an HBCU student, you’ll find important pieces of Black history incorporated into most of the classes you take. HBCUs continue to educate students on the achievements of Black individuals, putting Black history in college curricula where it belongs.
HBCUs provide demanding but invigorating academic environments. Several of them, such as Howard University and Spelman College, are nationally recognized for offering outstanding educational programs, especially in the STEM fields. In fact, the same UNCF report found that HBCUs generated 25% of all bachelor’s degrees in STEM fields for African Americans. If you’re looking for a school that will challenge you and leave you proud of your achievements, an HBCU is a great choice.
4. Campus community
HBCUs also offer a nurturing and supportive campus environment as well as numerous high-quality resources for students. For example, while 91% of writing centers at PWIs are staffed with undergraduate students, more than half of HBCUs use professional tutors. Imani Simmons, a Howard University alumni, describes her experience, saying, “While engaged in very challenging work, I find that the tutoring center is the most valuable resource for me. Once I discovered I could go to the tutoring center as much as I needed, I’ve basically lived there. The tutors take the time not only to teach me but also to learn about who I am as a person.”
Students themselves also create a vibrant campus life by hosting diverse events. Black Greek Letter Organizations (BGLO) host parties, shows, and competitions. In addition, homecoming is an acclaimed weeklong celebration characterized by concerts, shows, food vendors, parties, parades, and school pride. HBCU homecomings are notorious for featuring renowned celebrities, such as Drake at Howard University’s 2012 homecoming.
5. Long-term connections
The strong sense of community at HBCUs doesn’t simply disappear after graduation, as most schools have robust alumni associations. Through these groups, alumni continue to offer support and networking opportunities to current students as well as new professionals. Students can build connections with notable individuals within their field of study, earn internships, and promote their intended careers. In some cases, prominent alumni even donate money to fund new programs and scholarships at their alma maters.
HBCUs have plenty of assets like any other college, including financial assistance, impressive academic rigor, high-spirited communities, and valuable networking opportunities. But it’s the diversity and focus on supporting disadvantaged students and promoting Black history and culture that really set them apart. With over 100 HBCUs in the US to choose from, one may be the ideal fit for you.
Whether it’s an HBCU or another college, finding a diverse campus culture is important! Check out our article on 6 Questions to Ask About a University's Cultural Fit to help you find your best-fit school.