We all understand the impact of being around people who are like you. How important it is to be a part of a community that can relate to you motivates you to be the best version of yourself. Many students who attend or have attended HBCUs can confirm that that sense of unity and a common goal makes the journey to the degree that much more worth it. When talking to a few family members that attended HBCUs and even someone who attended a PWI, I was able to form a more in depth perspective about just how essential HBCUs can be to the success of young Black adults.
My sister, a graduate of North Carolina Central University in North Carolina, provided me with insight on how attending an hbcu not only affected her matriculation into college, but also into the real world. Attending an HBCU allowed her to network with people who looked like her as well as form meaningful connections with professors and admin that prevailed well into her professional career. Being in an environment full of successful young Black adults as well as staff and administration that have been where you have been and can be role models to you and provide you with the advice and support you need to be successful is more impactful on black students than you may understand. To see Black professionals who came from the same community as you, who may have dealt with the same struggles as you, and most importantly understand the specific challenges you face as a young Black adult stepping into your career completely changes your college experience.
Talking to other HBCU students, I received more confirmation on what I already knew: HBCUs make you feel at home more than any PWI or typical public college/university ever could. It was discussed how the atmosphere is family-like and the bonds you are able to make are set for life. An alternative perspective from another family member who attended a PWI allowed me to really compare the difference between the types of institutions. She placed an emphasis on the competitive aspect of attending a PWI, not only are you competing against other young adults, you’re competing against people who may/may not be against you and your success and that have come from a completely different background, providing them with access to resources you never had. In addition to that, it may feel as if you have to prove yourself significantly more and code switch in order to be taken seriously. Problems that would not occur at an HBCU full of people who can sympathize with the trials and tribulations you have to go through.
It is clear that HBCUs set a standard for young black adults that other colleges/universities simply cannot provide. According to UNCF, HBCUs make up 3% of America’s colleges/universities yet produce 20% of Black graduates as well as 25% of black STEM graduates. HBCUs are a home away from home to young Black students, as well as an environment focused on fostering success in a way that is incomparable to other institutions.