My Instagram feed was lit up with excitement over the newly released Netflix original, “Homecoming: A film by Beyoncé” The music documentary followed performing artist Beyoncé Knowles in her preparation as the 2018 headliner for the Coachella music festival. Knowles expressed her admiration for the culture of historically black colleges/universities (HBCUs) and made it the theme of her concert. A live marching band, majorette dancers, a baton twirler, and “So much damn swag.” sums up the HBCU experience wonderfully. But all that glitters is not gold, and HBCUs like most colleges has its downfalls. I would know, I transferred from Hampton University, the top 3rd ranked HBCU in the country, according to the top 25 ranked HBCUs.
Seeing all my friends from my previous university post with the hashtag #HBCUpride and quoting Beyoncé, “I always dreamed of going to an HBCU.” made me question my decision to transfer. Now being a student at Stony Brook University, I felt like I couldn’t truly appreciate the moment because I didn’t attend an HBCU anymore. Although I could no longer relate, my remorse for leaving Hampton disappeared once the two hour documentary was over. The three semesters I’d spent around driven and ambitious black students was great and inspired me to focus in on my future endeavors. But besides networking, I felt like Hampton had a lot it could improve on. Spending over $40,000 a year, with no help from financial aid, would not be worth it in the long run, and so I decided I to transfer.
However, my transition from an HBCU to a more racially diverse university was not as smooth as I expected. I found myself only attending black hosted events and applying to black orgs, limiting my social life. I had been searching for that HBCU experience amongst such a diverse demographic, ultimately cutting myself off from most things Stony had to offer. I realized that longing for what my previous university made me feel would not be found at Stony, and I had to stop limiting my interactions with people who were black simply because we were of the same race. Reading an article about the true diversity of Stony Brooks campus by Her Campus contributor Maya Brown also made me feel like I wasn’t alone and that most people at Stony Brook tend to mingle with people of the same race also.
Attending an HBCU for a moment gave me the chance to experience and appreciate the culture which was highlighted in the Homecoming documentary. But my time there also made me realize that being in an environment that has more cons than pros is not worth the stress. On the other hand transferring to Stony Brook, a more racially diverse university, I had learned not to hold myself back from participating on campus if the people around me don’t share the same race. However, if I do seek the company of people that I share the same race with it is okay, as long as those people inspire me to get work done and pursue my future goals.
Gifs courtesy of giphy.