Can New Episodes of A Different World Promote College for Kids of Color?
You can hear someone talk about something, but until you actually see it, taste it and touch it sometimes it’s not real. I had this feeling about college. My parents talked about their college days, but until I watched the television show A Different World, college seemed to be some vast foreign land I was told I would have to go to after high school. At first the show was an unrealistic take on historically Black colleges/universities (HBCU’s) that is until Debbie Allen took it over in 1989. Then it began to look, smell and sound like the college my parents talked about and by this time it also looked familiar to where we dropped off my sister after her four year stint in high school. What I loved the most about A Different World was the portrayal of a tight knit culture of students of color. There seemed to be palpable campus energy where most understood that they are there to carry the torch of their family’s dreams to do and be better. I did not get to attend an HBCU. Instead I lived vicariously through my older sister’s experiences and A Different World. Now that I am older I see so much of what Debbie Allen tried to bring to life. Through A Different World she made college not seem so much like a foreign land. Speaking as a second generation college graduate that meant a lot.
What could I have possibly learned about college from watching A Different World?
What dorm rooms look like The importance and stress of studying Challenges faced when you are the first in your family to attend college It's natural to feel homesick Black professors do exist, male… And female professors Preparing for job interviews can help in… Landing jobs and/or internships (during and after college) Greek Life - like pledging a fraternity or… Pledging a sorority for networks and sisterhood/brotherhood can be fun - or not so much The importance of politics and… The importance of getting involved with politics There are so many different careers (who knew one could be an art buyer?) Finding a potential mate in college (while this should not be anyone’s primary goal in college, it sure doesn't hurt) Realistic financial challenges after obtaining your degree and starting a career One needs encouragement and lots of help to pursue a career in medicine, especially if they will be the first in the family to take on such a field In 2012 Debbie Allen talked about possibly bringing back the famed show. I am all for it. I would love for our children to witness a show that focuses not only on going to college but also on people, who look like them, thriving once they get there.