Why Students Are Choosing HBCUs

Today’s New York Times had an article entitled “Why Students Are Choosing H.B.C.U.s: ‘4 Years Being Seen as Family’.” Reading the article is as much about why students are choosing HBCUs as why some black students are choosing not to attend PWIs (Predominantly White Institutions). I think this article might provide some insight (which URM (under-represented minority) students on PWI campuses have surely tried to offer their campuses before) as to what is lacking at those campuses and how the experience for URMs might be improved.

Here is a link to the article that should be free to all, no matter whether you have a subscription or have used up your monthly views at the NY Times or not: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/06/11/us/hbcu-enrollment-black-students.html?unlocked_article_code=AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACEIPuomT1JKd6J17Vw1cRCfTTMQmqxCdw_PIxftm3iWka3DLDm8biPkORIiK8FqIaKx5YN832jmdWJpLNLYkR7lp0vJTMkpxUE-ovp6A0twjEhkClLiSDCkwzo6fGvcx6yPrZW20b-0nmeTm5EjXdTboWfTA1XUmJRI1pJFgaVr-iiACzq_EQeV3j8Jsnqt0XuAMTjgCZiiAufD6WV4paJjdMEaqukRhUPpZWDrTgdeY97oDFQ1YAlvNR350in0uvJIeYJhEefaicGNzPZb2kr4TCWd3LYm2B5VXR4nclrVitL6lugWcx3q0EEUXdL3CMq9-JULn&smid=url-share

On a separate but related note, the College Search & Selection category has subforums for Christian Colleges, Community Colleges, Women’s Colleges, and Online Degrees, but nothing for HBCUs. And there is an area for African-American Students under Specialty College Admissions Topics, but HBCUs are not exclusively for African-American students. Perhaps CC might consider adding a subcategory for HBCUs under College Search & Selection.


@AustenNut, thank you for posting the article. It is awesome seeing my 2 kid’s HBCU and the scholarship program that has fundamentally changed their lives mentioned in the article along with a quote and some pictures of their friends. The happiness and joy that my oldest has experienced over the last 4 years while getting her education is something that I wish all college students enjoyed. I love your idea of a HBCU subcategory as it may shine some light to students on some of the smaller HBCUs who do really great work helping students from disadvantaged backgrounds, but are not usually mentioned in media or receive large donations like some of the schools in the article.


That acronym seems to be “Predominantly White Institution”, although it often seems to be flexibly applied to colleges where that used to be an accurate description but probably no longer is.

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Thank you for the correction. I’ve updated my original post, though now the link to the article appears all wonky. Will see if I can fix that…

Wow, terrific article! I have definitely noticed a huge increase in interest in the HBCUs in the last 4-5 years. Our state is geographically far away from any HBCU however, so many students here are torn between wanting to stay close to home and yearning to go. Predictably for me, I wondered if National Student Exchange might offer a compromise. And it turns out it does! There are a number of HBCUs that participate in NSE. You can do up to 1 year of exchange, paying only instate tuition, and your scholarships travel with you. https://www.nse.org/exchange/destination/HBCU/


@ChangeTheGame, how wonderful that you even recognized people in the article’s photos! I noticed how helpful you’ve been in comments to students who have been applying for that scholarship since your own children have received it, and I love you’re paying it forward.

@fiftyfifty1, thanks so much for thinking about NSE and opportunities to study at an HBCU. I would suspect that studying at an HBCU would be a much bigger cultural change for some American students than it would be for them to be studying in Europe. And considering the fact that most American students are likely to end up living in the U.S. for their lifetimes, I think it would be very beneficial for more individuals to get the perspective of being at an HBCU.

In looking back over my life as a person of color (POC), I have almost always been part of a small minority percentage of whatever institution I was a part of. It was not until my working at my current employer where it is perhaps half POC that I have started to realize how much I have missed that I didn’t realize I was even missing. In working with a number of people who did attend HBCUs, there is something remarkable in their experience that I don’t come across with most alums from non-HBCUs.


Probably even more so for non-Black students, who are less likely (than Black students) to have ever lived in a place with high Black population. Perhaps especially so for many White students, who are less likely (than any members of visible minority groups) to have lived in a place where they are members of a visible minority group.

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Thanks for starting this thread, and the link to the NYT article. There were so many wonderful quotes from the students, but this was my favorite:

“I figured I have the rest of my life to be treated like a minority, to fight to be seen as human,” she added. “I might as well spend four years being seen as family.”


I probably have had experiences unlike most white Americans, having lived in heavily black neighborhoods at least two times in my life. One year as a child I was one of only two white kids in the class. Up to a certain age, unless they’re surrounded by adults who make a point of it, children don’t tend to care, or even notice.

I’ve also lived in communities that were very balanced among multiple races, and even if folks tended to live in enclaves with their own race, it was an everyday occurrence to encounter each other while just going about one’s business.

So while I’ve obviously never walked in the shoes of a POC, based on the kinds of comments I too often hear from other whites, I have a wider perspective. I’ll be honest, it’s always a challenge to speak up against offhand comments and stereotypes, and I don’t always do it. Part of what bothers me is the automatic assumption that because I too am white I share their views.

Don’t want my last post to veer too far away from the topic of HBCUs, so here is another favorite quote from the article:

“she lost out on a coveted spot in a program at Vanderbilt to a classmate — a reminder that she’s no longer the only smart Black student in the room.”

I can imagine that student could have found the situation disappointing and refreshing at the same time.

For those who have feelings one way or the other on the issue, I have started a thread in the CC Community & Forum issues area suggesting that the subcategory of HBCUs be added to College Search & Selection. That thread is located here: Adding HBCU Category to College Search & Selection.


I notice that some employers that offer free tuition have included some HBCUs on their lists of covered colleges. For example Target (a big employer where I live) covers Morehouse and Paul Quinn.