Today’s Youth DISCONNECTED with HBCUs

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Often I, and many HBCU alumni, become shocked when today’s youth often ask, “What is a HBCU?” It becomes quite shocking to us because we grew up with family members who attended HBCUs or were knowledgeable that HBCUs served as the only option for Blacks to receive a Higher Education less than 60 years ago. From this I began to ask myself how is it that today’s youth are so unfamiliar with HBCUs?

I always argue that things are connected through history. Before the Brown v. Board of Education decision (1954) over 90% of Blacks attended HBCUs. Today, however, less than 13% of Blacks attend HBCUs. So how would today’s youth know or become aware of HBCUs when there is such a drastic decrease in the number of Blacks enrolled at HBCUs? Many parents of our current youth sought out the opportunity to attend integrated institutions and the resources available at those institutions. This could possibly have resulted in today’s youth having teachers or mentors that are not HBCU alumni, which also results in the lack of discussion about HBCUs.

From this proposition it becomes even clearer why HBCUs must actively recruit heavily for students in order to create an interest within today’s youth of these institutions. More importantly it makes our responsibility, as alumni, just as notable to discuss with today’s youth about attending a HBCU and why it could be the better possibility for many students in regards to their higher education. The ignorance of today’s youth about HBCUs is not their fault. But when these institutions are introduced to them, a keen interest is created and possible desire to attend. If we, as alumni, do not create discourse about HBCUs with today’s youth, how do we expect them to attend in the future?

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7 thoughts on “Today’s Youth DISCONNECTED with HBCUs

  1. Kudos! Great article. As a graduate of NC A&T I think the issue is much bigger than people not remembering or knowing the purpose of HBCUs historically. I believe HBCUs have failed to be inclusive and progressive in their continued recruitment of Black students and of non minorities—whites, Asians, etc (this is debatable as a recent study shows the “new minority “are whites sans the massive immigration of Hispanics in the last 25 yrs, but I digress). It is the year 2012. You have to adjust your model/mission for the current state of our nation. The diversity cup runneth over. The truth is all that you said and more.

    Examples of schools doing this: Howard University and NC A&T. Both schools are thriving and have diversity in the student population.

    • Melanie, thank you for explaining HBCUs must strive more to diversify their student populations. In doing so I also believe it will reach youth of all backgrounds while also maintaining the mission of these institutions.

    • Melanie, thank you for your comment. I always say, “HBCUs have much work to do” in agreement with your suggestion for HBCUs to become more inclusive and progressive. Although HBCUs serve a large population of African American students, diversity is seen within this group of students by socioeconomic status, religion, politics, and culture. However more efforts are needed to recruit students from additional backgrounds to address the declining enrollment rates our institutions face.

    • Thank you for your comment HBCUkidz. The work you are doing will definitely contribute to the perception today’s youth have about HBCUs. It does begin within homes of HBCU alumni; honestly that’s how I was introduced.

  2. I’m an upcoming junior in high school and I know of all the best things I can get at an HBCU but I’m still kind of reluctant on attending one. How do I find the best HBCU for me ?

    • Ciara, you are already on the right track because you are researching early. The first step and arguably most important is figuring out what it is you want out of a school.

      Think about what you want to major in, what resources such as research centers, labs, student orgs, etc… are available to help you be successful in your field of choice.

      Second, consider proximity. Do you want to leave home or stay close by? Have you weighed the costs of both options? Are there quality HBCUs close that are affordable where you can pay in-state or do you have to go out of state, if so, can you afford to pay that cost?

      Third, you must answer what it is you think an HBCU can provide that a PWI can not. This requires much thought, but ultimately you must decide what school will give you the best opportunity to make something of yourself, and to become a better person as an individual and to society.

      What is your reluctancy?

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