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HBCUs, the Right Choice for You

By -by The Higher Education Columnist, Britt Spears



During a time of civil unrest and the reckoning of centuries of mistreatment of Black and Brown bodies on American land, now more than ever people are feeling the cold shoulder that is systematic racism. The field of Higher Education is no newcomer to inequities and barred access to the right to education. That is not to say, however, that there are not campuses across the nation that have been fervently making efforts to right the wrongs of their institutions’ past. Today, students have the opportunity to attend the school of their choice by meeting certain admission requirements and choosing to attend institutions that were once their only choice based on their ethnic or racial background. Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs) make up a category of higher education institutions based on either historical origin or enrollment criteria of the Higher Education Act of 1965. One of the largest classifications of MSIs are Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

HBCUs are higher education institutions that were established before the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 with the distinct intent to educate African-American students. These schools were created for Black students who were not considered for admission in the early years of American Higher Education. Many of these institutions were founded in the years shortly after the Civil War and concentrated in the Southern and new Southeast regions. For a hundred years after the ending of slavery in 1865 most colleges and universities in the south prohibited all African Americans from attending, while institutions in other parts of the country regularly utilized quotas to restrict admissions of Black people. Many institutions were established on rural lands that were plantations and land for sharecropping, or in metropolitan areas that once held affluent Black neighborhoods that may have become gentrified or rundown post the civil rights movement of the 1950s and ’60s. In the modern context, HBCUs are slowly but surely returning as students’ first choice for college selection. Students and their supporters acknowledge the affordability, supportive atmosphere, and first-class academic experience that these HBCUs have always offered.

So why an HBCU? Because they were created for YOU. As a Higher Education professional, I need to acknowledge that there are pros and cons to all institutions whether 4-year, 2-year, minority-serving, or otherwise. But as a Black woman acknowledging the state of America, I urge you to consider an HBCU for your first degree, your next degree, or to suggest it to a family or community member looking for an educational experience inclusive of their heritage and culture now, and for the future.

If you need support for funding your education please consider the following:

  • supports 37 HBCUs
  • supports both HBCUs and PBIs
  • has financial aid for college or graduate school.
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