hbcu or pwi college attendance parents

Choosing a College: To HBCU or PWI?

Posted on Posted in Blog, College Bound Tips

Choosing a College: To HBCU or PWI?


Are you finalizing college attendance plans this winter break with your budding college scholar?  We still have a few years left.  And the oldest knows she can choose an HBCU (Historically Black College/University) or PWI (Predominantly White Institution), it doesn’t really matter to me as long as she goes.  In the meantime I have shared with her how I ended up at a PWI and it wasn’t by choice – necessarily. 
All through grade school I was one of the only little chocolate faces sitting in the classroom. For college I wanted to finally sit in a classroom where people who looked like me and probably had experiences like me were in the majority.  So I chose an HBCU (several in fact).  Applied, got accepted and… did not go… to not any one of them.
My parents were deadest against financing out of state college tuition. The one in-state HBCU I would have attended I did not want to attend for a typical teenager reason –it was too close to home.  So, with no way to finance my own college education I stayed in-state and went through what felt like umpteen more years of being the only chocolate drop in the room.  Although my college experiences were not awful (thank God) they did not produce warm and fuzzy memories. Why?
  • The band played none of the music my friends and I liked at the football games. 
  • The clubs and organizations, excluding the African American Students club, were not always very friendly or receptive to students of color holding offices.
  • I can count on one hand, with fingers to spare, how many professors looked like me and probably were familiar with my experiences and those of my parents and grandparents.
Everyone I know who attended an HBCU says that they enjoyed:
  • Being in an environment where African-Americans are the majority.
  • Having a close knit school environment (evidenced by every HBCU Homecoming I’ve ever attended).
  • Continuing a family legacy.
  • African American Greek life (in campus abundance).
There is still that ongoing debate as to whether or not an HBCU can prepare one for the ‘real world’.  But research has found that:
HBCUs do prepare students to compete on a global scale, evidenced by the success of African American students who attend HBCUs for their undergraduate degrees and go on to earn master’s, doctoral and professional degrees in STEM, law, and medicine from Harvard, Penn, Yale, Berkley, Duke, the University of Georgia, the University of Virginia, Johns Hopkins, and other top-ranked universities. Moreover, African American students attending HBCUs are more likely to go to graduate or professional schools than African American students from other institutional types.
There are 105 HBCUs in the United States, representing 3 percent of institutions in America.  HBCUs enroll 9 % of all African American students enrolled in higher education. Although the majority of students at HBCUs are African American students (83 %), HBCUs have a significant numbers of White students (13 %), Hispanic students (3 %), and Asian students (1 %).  Furthermore, HBCUs also produce 17% of all bachelor’s degrees, 25 %of bachelor’s degrees in education, and 22 percent of bachelor’s degrees in STEM fields to African American students. 


2015 List of Top 10 HBCU’s


1.Spelman College


6. Xavier University of Louisiana


2. Howard University


7. Fisk University


3. Morehouse College


8. Florida A&M University


4. Hampton University


9. Claflin University


5. Tuskegee University


10. North Carolina A&T State University





HBCU’s with Highest Graduation Rates:


Spelman College 69%


Howard University 65%


Hampton University 59%


Morehouse College 55%


Fisk University 52%



The hubby and I attended PWI’s. We met nice people, we learned a lot and there is no doubt that we feel no shame when it comes to our degree granting institution. Yet I can’t shake the feeling when I attend our parents and siblings HBCU’s for homecomings that somehow, someway… I missed out. 
All of our children are living the kind of grade school life I experienced years ago.  At the end of the day I want them to choose a college that’s going to prepare them for their intended major. However, college is tough. And I don’t mean just the school work.  No matter if our three choose a PWI or HBCU we hope that they are able to adjust to a 12 hours or more work load while they cope with being away from their bed and mama’s home cooking.



So, what will it be for your budding college scholar: an HBCU (Historically Black College/University) or a PWI (Predominantly White Institution)?


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