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Ivy League/Top 25 University or HBCU?

WatchfulEyeWatchfulEye Registered User Posts: 76 Junior Member
edited July 2013 in Parents Forum
My son currently is a junior in HS and is of mixed heritage. He is predominately African American but has some Filipino, Thai and Caucasian blood as well. He currently attends a 90% or greater Caucasian public high school. The overall SAT score for his school is currently ~1670. His score is as follows: CR 770, Math 730, Writing 750 10 E (2250). He was recognized as a GATE student in the third grade and received a 1980 on the official SAT when he was in 8th grade. His GPA is strong, extracurriculars are average. Like most parents with high achievers I always had Ivy league aspirations for him. Now for my dilemma, we are planning a college tour trip in a few weeks and I asked him where and what types of colleges he wants to visit. His answer was that he wants to leverage his SAT scores/grades to try to get a full ride and he would consider small class size to be optimal. I did some research and he qualifies for Presidential Scholarships at HBCU institutions, meaning full tuition, room/board,meal plan, and in some cases $1000/year for books and a laptop. Our Income is in the $180k/ year range so financial aid is not a reliable option for us, but we are far from rich in the area where we reside. He is considering dental school but he is only 17 therefore he may change direction. Two or three of the HBCu's have accelerated dental programs that he qualifies for and seem like a great fit in terms of merit aid and class size. Question: what would you do if you we're in his shoes? Apply and possibly matriculate in Ivy League school or other top 25 institution with a parent/student loan contribution $20 to 30K/year or matriculate at an HBCU in an accelerated dental program and have zero debt until he matriculates in dental school. Please note: he and his younger sister both have a 529B account that can cover 2 years at a top 25 school at this time. My son stated he does not want to spend it for undergrad as he would rather save it for professional school or use it for his sister. Also, please let's not make this an affirmative action debate :). I really could use some advice it is his life, but it is a family decision overall. Thank you in advance CC'ers!
Post edited by WatchfulEye on

Replies to: Ivy League/Top 25 University or HBCU?

  • EMM1EMM1 Registered User Posts: 2,583 Senior Member
    A couple of thoughts:

    First, congratulations on raising such an accomplished son.

    Second, the differences are going to be cultural as well as academic. Do you (and he) want him to be in another predominantly Caucasian environment or one which is overwhelmingly African-American? The experiences in that regard will be VERY different with respect to a) the students that he will meet and b) the attitudes of students and faculty members. He will absorb many of those attitudes

    Third, have you considered the option of a flagship state university (which, depending on the university) might include an honors program? My guess is that many of those universities would provide substantial financial aid for a student like your son.
  • twogirlstwogirls Registered User Posts: 6,582 Senior Member
    Congrats to your son for all of his outstanding work! It sounds like he is very mature. I agree with him- if he can graduate from college with zero debt and put his money towards professional school, that would be the way to go.
  • WatchfulEyeWatchfulEye Registered User Posts: 76 Junior Member
    Thank you EMM. I posed the question to him in regards to attending a predominantly AA institution and he says he wouldn't mind giving it a shot.He responded that would actually be a good way to enhance his diversity:). Other than his extended family, grandma, uncles, cousins, aunts etc he has not been exposed to AA's due to where we live. I grew up in both extremes and I am comfortable in either setting. I am a little concerned about HBCU's academically as I do not want him to be bored. One school in particular that intrigues us has a very strong biology, physics dept with class sizes less than 10 students (round table approach). They feed into the
    nearby medical/ dental school and has a strong affiliation with Vanderbilt for PHD programs. On one hand I am very proud of his maturity in the decision making when it comes to dollars but the other hand I do not want to make a mistake :). It's hard for me as the school is basically guaranteeing he will not pay a penny for 4 years at their institution. Tough, tough call as a parent.
  • WatchfulEyeWatchfulEye Registered User Posts: 76 Junior Member
    Thank you two girls. I'm salivating on the thought of a full ride but still have some apprehension. It could open up options and possibilities that wouldn't exist financially if we paid our contribution based on income etc. Me and my wife discuss how we could keep money is his bank account and could afford to fly him back to CA and us to see him whenever we would like. We're flying into Boston from Ca, well start at Harvard, MIT, Howard, UPenn, Brown, U of Richmond, Rutgers, Villanova, Hampton, Fisk, and Meharry Medical College. We are visiting a wide variety of colleges so hopefully well know more when he hit the East Coast. Stanford is the only school were considering in CA. CA UC schools are
    quite large and do not offer merit aid due to budget an the over abundance of applicants (zoo).
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 71,668 Senior Member
    a parent/student loan contribution $20 to 30K/year

    Seems like most people would consider that much debt to be too much, especially when there is expensive professional school to follow.

    Note that there are other options of big merit scholarships besides HBUs, if he wants additional options:


    Depending on your state of residency, there may be state universities that have big merit scholarships for in-state students (e.g. New Jersey residents sometimes report full rides from Rutgers; CSU Long Beach also has a few for California residents; UCLA has a small number of Stamps Foundation scholarships).

    But remember that some of the big scholarships have high college GPA requirements to keep the scholarships. E.g. Howard's Presidential scholarship requires a 3.5 college GPA to renew, thought the slightly lesser Founder's scholarship requires a 3.3 college GPA to renew.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 71,668 Senior Member
    He currently attends a 90% or greater Caucasian public high school.

    Hmmm, where would there be such a high school in California?
  • WatchfulEyeWatchfulEye Registered User Posts: 76 Junior Member
    Coto De Caza, Ca. Per Wikipedia 88.1% Caucasian, 7.9% Hispanic, 0.9% AA, and 0.1 Asian plus other. His HS probably closer to 85% to be exact.
  • colorado_momcolorado_mom Registered User Posts: 8,640 Senior Member
    Congratulations. It sounds like your son will have a lot of options. Run lots of college financial calculators. He can likely leverage his stats for scholarship at many schools, not just HBCU.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 71,668 Senior Member
    Hmmm, the nearest public high school to that place is 75% NH white, 12% Latino, 9% Asian + Filipino, and 1% black, according to the API Reports - Academic Performance Index (CA Dept of Education) . That is still unusual by California standards.
  • MarianMarian Registered User Posts: 12,995 Senior Member
    You've expressed this as an either-or situation. Either a top school or an HBCU, with the main virtue of the HBCU being the opportunity for a merit scholarship.

    But maybe you might want to expand the discussion to include a third possibility -- non-HBCU colleges where he might qualify for merit scholarships.

    That way, if visits to HBCUs show him that he would feel out of place there, he would have another option to consider.

    There are many threads on CC about colleges that offer merit scholarships to top students. I wonder whether your son, with his preference for small classes, might want to consider some liberal arts colleges where he would be a good candidate for a merit scholarship.

    As for the ethnic composition of his high school, it really doesn't matter except that he has grown up in an environment where he is African American and practically everyone else is not. Whether some of those non-AAs are Hispanic or Asian instead of white isn't particularly important, in my opinion. What's important is that they aren't African American. Coming from a school where his heritage is highly unusual has probably been a defining factor in your son's life. He might very much enjoy attending a college where there are more African Americans. However, attending a college where almost everyone is African American and strongly identifies with that heritage -- as is the case at HBCUs -- might be a bit too strong of a culture shock.
  • sseamomsseamom Registered User Posts: 4,897 Senior Member
    I would not discount an HBCU as being "too boring" for your son. My D is intent on attending one, has similar GATE affiliation and middle school test scores that would translate into a like similar SAT. She too plans on looking hard for one of those full rides.

    I'm guessing the HBCU near Vanderbilt you refer to is Fisk. We had the good fortune to meet one of the admissions people there this year. Are you aware that if your son attends Fisk he would be able to take undergrad classes at Vanderbilt and other PWI? That's also the case at others-NCAT is part of a consortium, as are Morehouse and Clark Atlanta. Fisk tends to look for students on the higher end of the GPA vs. some of the other HBCU's, also.

    In our research, we've met and spoken to doctors, lawyers, dentists, community leaders as well as those in many types of professions who have graduated from HBCU's. None of them have wanted for employment, even recent grads in this economy. None felt cheated out of a "good education". Their answer to the diversity question is that while most of the students ARE black, they come from all walks of life, all income levels, varied educational backgrounds and more-they actually have seen MORE diversity than where they came from. Also, more Hispanics and Asians are enrolling in HBCUs as they are looking elsewhere than PWI's and look closely at those scholarships.

    I will say this-the people we've met, the one HBCU we've toured so far (while on vacation) have been the most willing and accommodating in terms of honesty and interest. They've taken us seriously, even though D is still young. At our one tour, the director of the department she is interested in, spoke with her personally, gave her his card, and told her to email or call with any questions. She was in 7th grade at the time.

    You can PM me if you have any specific questions.
  • WatchfulEyeWatchfulEye Registered User Posts: 76 Junior Member
    Thank Marian, that is why we are visiting U of Richmond, Villanova, Rutgers as they offer full rides as well but are very competitive. We are spending two weeks on the East Coast as I am trying to give him a broad spectrum of college size, opportunities etc. My college list is growing by the minute.
  • sseamomsseamom Registered User Posts: 4,897 Senior Member
    "However, attending a college where almost everyone is African American and strongly identifies with that heritage -- as is the case at HBCUs -- might be a bit too strong of a culture shock. "

    Or, it might be the first time the young man feels "at home" which was the case for some of the HBCU grads I've spoken with. Some of the transferred OUT of "prestigious" schools (some public California U's in particular) and INTO an HBCU because they decided they preferred to be surrounded, for the first time, by people of their own heritage.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 71,668 Senior Member
    Marian wrote:
    Coming from a school where his heritage is highly unusual has probably been a defining factor in your son's life.

    Hmmm, seems like his heritage (African American + Filipino + Thai + European American) would be highly unusual anywhere.
  • wis75wis75 Registered User Posts: 13,312 Senior Member
    Good luck to your son. Ours is 1/2 Asian Indian, 1/2 European and grew up in a non Asian Indian world. Also excellent academic credentials. He refused to look at some Ivies and went to our highly ranked flagship. It is hard to be different academically and culturally (so much social life revolves around churches). Fortunately our son had sports, music and academic outlets. Now there are many more Indians around the hometown- too late for him to have local cultural ties.

    How does your son feel about being different from his HS peers? Does he have a social network at school? Do you sense he is accepted? No need to tell us the answers to any questions I pose. What are his thoughts? Where have relatives gone to college? Do you feel he would thrive at a school far from his California culture? Do you/he want to get away from the dominating Asian and Hispanic minority cultures?

    You sound wise in knowing he could change his future plans. This is his big chance to change his environment. Perhaps even visiting the colleges will give him a feel for the atmosphere.

    Can he attend any sessions offered by the Black colleges? Spending a week or two with people his own age and ethnicity could make a difference. He might discover he is a California boy more than he identifies with their cultures of the South, East or wherever.

    Whatever you do- do not go into huge debt for his undergrad education. Also do not worry about where he ends up. He has many good cultural options- can only lead one life.
This discussion has been closed.