Being a senior in high school, you have two priorities: making countless memories and getting accepted into college. The hardest part of selecting a college is to see if it fits you in many categories such as; race, class size, academics, and athletics. Many people go to schools based on their academic excellence, while many chose to go to schools based on how good their athletic programs are. And for the rest of us, we choose a school that would benefit us academically as well as emotionally. For many people of color, they see HBCU’s (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) as a safe haven from a white washed America. From a personal standpoint, being raised in Louisiana, I always wanted to attend the flagship university which is also a PWI (Predominantly White Institution), Louisiana State.
Becoming older and more aware, as well as attending a predominantly white high school, I knew LSU wasn’t where I wanted to be, so I began doing research on HBCU’s. HBCU’s were first created for people of color to get an education because at the time, white universities excluded them from getting an education on their campuses. As well as opening their doors to us, they also come with very rich histories of how well people of color excelled abundantly by attending these institutions. As PWI’s began to integrate their campuses, many saw that as a way to make history by attending these colleges, but many too have saw it as a way to bash and put down HBCU’s. In the recent years, many statistics show how poorly, as well as excellent HBCU’s are doing as a whole academically, but many people, including black students who are high school seniors or currently enrolled at PWI’s chose to talk about the bad parts of an HBCU.
Me being student attending one of the top HBCU’s in the country, I tell those interested in furthering their education to attend college all together, but talking to another African American, I would influence them to attend an HBCU, not only because of the rich history that was brough-forth from our ancestors struggle to get an education, but because of the atmosphere of being around people just like you, the countless memories but most importantly, the molding the university will bring forth in your life academically as well as mentally and of the networking system you will get. You can network at any university, but at an HBCU, you would be able to network with heads of companies, doctors, and lawyers who come from the same background as you.
I asked a few of my friends and followers from social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook the question which asked them what are their thoughts on the debates between attending a PWI or HBCU and here are some of my responses:
A black student attending a PWI:
“I’ll first start off by saying I always wanted to attend an HBCU but my parents wanted me to go to a PWI because they felt that HBCU’s were party schools, bad education, etc. Now as far as the debate, I feel that is is HIGHLY unnecessary. Often times, people (family members) make negative comments about my decision to attend a PWI. It’s like they feel that I am a sellout because of the school I chose. We are all trying to get a degree, and it doesn’t matter where we’re getting it from.”
A black high school senior:
“I honestly feel like it’s up to the person. There are many different things you can get from both schools. Neither one is “better”, they honestly both have strong points. Coming from a 70% white high school, of course attending a HBCU will be somewhat of a culture shock for me. but I honestly think it will help me become a better person in a way. Not only will I be around people who face the same struggles as me, I’ll be at a school that educates us on how to come about those problems. That’s something I will surely not get at a PWI because the people pouring money to a PWI do not face these struggles everyday, therefore they can’t sympathize with me.”
A white student attending an HBCU:
“Personally, I’m glad I attend an HBCU. The parish I’m from was like a bubble where I was forced to think like everyone else and majority of the people there are racist. I’ve only been here for a semester and I’ve learned so much about minorities. Becoming more educated on social injustices made me want to change my major. I want to do something to help create equality now and if I would have gone to a PWI, I highly doubt I would have been educated as much in my whole college career as I have in this one semester.”
A black student attending an HBCU:
“I think it’s one of the most ridiculous debates to have. Its annoying when POC that attend PWI’s say that HBCU’s are easy and have no diversity. HBCU’s were created as a safe space for black people and I couldn’t be more proud to attend one. I was accepted into a PWI but I turned it down because Xavier (of New Orleans) would propel me into my career. We’re all trying to get degrees and make something of ourselves, so why discourage me because I didn’t want to attend a PWI?”
From the countless responses I received, these four stood out the most. In all, we all want to meet the same goal of graduating and having a successful career and future, wherever we choose to go. If that’s a PWI or an HBCU, we should all respect each others decisions of where we chose to go as well as uplift and speak positive messages of where we or the other party chooses to go, because our harsh words could impact someone else from enrolling at that college.