Why did I go to an HBCU?

After attending a Black College Tour covering HBCUs in Alabama, Georgia and Florida during my junior year of high school…I was completely sold that I was going to a HBCU. At that time I had convinced myself that I would attend a HBCU and not a predominantly white institution because I admired seeing African-Americans as a whole bettering themselves educationally. From this experience, I felt that the sky was the limit; if African-Americans could assist one another in obtaining an education then African-Americans could accomplish any vision. It was very empowering!

So I began a search to choose a HBCU that my parents and I could agree on because I felt destined to be apart of such an experience. They too, attended a HBCU, along with one of my brothers and various family members. And after much discussion with family members, friends and most importantly graduates of Hampton University, we decided this is where I’d give it a try. But my work wasn’t done.

I had received a full ride to an in state HBCU and my father needed to be convinced why he would willingly pay tuition for me to attend another HBCU. So we traveled to attend Hampton’s infamous “HIGH SCHOOL DAY” and he was completely sold. From the cheerfulness of the students to the administration rules and guidelines and some financial assistance as a STEM major; we were convinced that Hampton was the place for me.

I am sure that you all have a story on how and why you chose your HBCU. We invite you to share it here. Tell us what made you choose your HBCU? And do you currently admire or regret your decision to attend a HBCU ?


31 thoughts on “Why did I go to an HBCU?

  1. As a parent of a student attending an HBCU, I am proud to say that it was the best decision for my daughter who attends Hampton University. I did not attend an HBCU and was on the fence as my daughter contemplated her school of choice. After attending HIgh School Day and seeing the enthusiasm and pride of Hampton students coupled with the message from the administration, I became very comfortable with my daughters desire to attend Hampton. The nurturing and focused perspective of communication received by each student are valuable entities that are usually non existent in non HBCUs.

  2. I was always destined to attend a HBCU. Both of my parents attended them as well. Every year we’d go to Virginia State’s Homecoming (my father’s alma mater) and even as a young girl seeing all of the many African American’s gather in a friendly, welcoming manner was extraordinary. Not to mention it was a fun time to spend with my family as well. My parents are also both Greek so to see my father interact with all of his fellow Sigma Brothers made the experience more enjoyable. When it came time for me to go off to college I was torn between two famous HBCU’s North Carolina A&T and Hampton University. My ultimate decision was Hampton University simply because of, you guessed it, High School Day LOL.
    I did not initially like Hampton my freshman year, but something happened during the summer before my sophomore year and I came back and LOVED every minute of it. I loved the people, the atmosphere, the events, but most importantly the unity we as young African American’s had together. My most memorable moment at Hampton was when President Barak Obama was elected as the President of the United States of America. It was a phenomenal moment on campus. I love My Home By The Sea and I would not trade the experience for anything in the world. I would encourage young black sisters and brothers to consider attending and HBCU as well, simply because it helps you to remember who YOU are and where YOU come from. It’s not easy out there in “the real world” so I believe you have to be grounded in what you believe and know who you are, and what you’re capable of doing. I’m very grateful for my experience as an undergraduate at a HBCU.

  3. Thank you both Mike and Giavonni for your comments. By sharing our experiences with others, we are able to tell the story of an HBCU. It means so much for parents and students to feel connected with their institution and their goals. Keep HBCUs Alive!

  4. I chose a HBCU because it is a family tradition to attend Florida A&M University (FAMU). I didn’t have much of a choice, but I’m glad I went because FAMU is where I became proud of myself, where I learned to work twice as hard, and where I watched other schools downplay us because we were a black school. I liked the fact that we as black people all came together to work harder so we wouldn’t be downplayed by others. I liked the fact that my professors understood my struggles and knew how to deal with it. I LOVE the fact that a sea of black folk were busting their butts trying their hardest to get an education. I also LOVE the fact that my professors truly cared about me and have even called me at home and lectured me about not working hard enough (RIP Dr. Pratt). Not to mention the camaradie of a football game and watching the band. There is no experience like finally not being in the minority. Being able to talk the way you talk with your family and friends on an everyday basis, not having to fight stereotypes on an everyday basis, and being able to be yourself without putting on the mask is great! And you can do that at a HBCU. I wouldn’t change that experience for the world.HBCU’s are where you find your worth – or at least where I found mine :). Yes, HBCU’s do serve a purpose and I’m glad I was part of that purpose.

    • Thank you for posting your experience iyanu77. Like you, I share many of the same experiences. These stories are so important because they empowered us to strive for the best in our future endeavors. Just imagine what an education at an HBCU can do for so many others that never thought they would be able to obtain a postsecondary education. Please continue to empower and teach others about HBCUs commitment to provide an Excellent Education.

    • We really enjoyed reading your comment. We invite you and others affiliated with HBCUs (in any capacity) to interview with us and share your HBCU Experience. An excerpt from your comment iyanu77 that really caressed the heart was when you said “I’m glad I went because FAMU is where I became proud of myself..” and “There is no experience like finally not being in the minority. Being able to talk the way you talk with your family and friends on an everyday basis, not having to fight stereotypes on an everyday basis, and being able to be yourself without putting on the mask is great!” You might like to know that Royce Reed attended FAMU as well.

  5. I did not attend a HBCU but worked at one briefly. I am currently working on a PhD in Education and am very interested in doing my dissertation on the experiences of students at HBCUs. Both my parents attended HBCUs and I believe that HBCUs MUST remain a viable option for students seeking higher education in the United States of America. I hope to add something meaningful to the literature and helpful to HBCUs.

  6. Dee feel free to use our website as a resource. We interview HBCU Students and Alumni in an effort to expose the youth to the REAL “HBCU Experience” and not the negative image often portrayed by those who never attended one but simply based their opinion on gossip. We hope you accept our invitation. Also feel free to contact our interviewees as well (their contact information is on their individual interview page). “The path is made by walking.” Have a great life! And tell your parents about us – we would love to document their words of wisdom.

  7. I love reading the comments, I attended a HBCU many years ago. My daughter has decided she want to attend a HBCU. It has been told to her by one of her classmates that her sister, who did not attend a HBCU, you can’t get a job if you attend a HBCU. It is a need for our black children to be educated about HBCU.

    • Thank you for sharing your daughter’s experience. Assumptions like these create negative stereotypes about HBCUs. What the public fails to acknowledge is that many graduates of HBCUs go on to earn jobs in top Fortune 500 companies, education, politics, health and also gain admission to prestigious graduate and professional schools. Please continue to inspire your daughter! Share with her our blog and if possible allow her to attend a Black College tour. These experiences will counter the assumptions that she may have previously witnessed of HBCUs. Best wishes!

  8. Well Mrs. McClure originally I abhorred the idea of attending an HBCU. My high school was predominately White,but had a decent amount of minorities. The problem was I seemed to be the only one in advanced classes and would regularly get clowned for being too “White”. My first experience with Hampton was PreCollege, and that’s when my outlook changed. Seeing bright Black people who spoke like me and shared a desire to excell was amazing . Seeing the superb standard of women at Hampton didn’t hurt either. Lol.

  9. I love it Chris : ) Thank you for sharing. Your experience shows how diverse our reasons were to attend an HBCU. But the common tie through all of our rationale, is to uplift Black society!

    • Hi!
      I will be attending american university in the fall in dc which is NOT an hbcu
      but im scared that im not going to have an african american community around me that will be strong enough.
      And I was thinking of transferring to hampton university
      but my mother’s fear (as well as my brothers) feel that it will be harder for me once I graduate to adapt to the “real world” and getting a job and what not
      since many of you are parents what are your takes on this? and how should I speak to my family about me transferring to an hbcu where I might just be happier (considering I don’t like it at american univ)
      thank you!

  10. Hi!
    I will be attending american university in the fall in dc which is NOT an hbcu
    but im scared that im not going to have an african american community around me that will be strong enough.
    And I was thinking of transferring to hampton university
    but my mother’s fear (as well as my brothers) feel that it will be harder for me once I graduate to adapt to the “real world” and getting a job and what not
    since many of you are parents what are your takes on this? and how should I speak to my family about me transferring to an hbcu where I might just be happier (considering I don’t like it at american univ)
    thank you!

    • Hi Tiffany!
      Of course my response may be a little biased because I am a Hampton grad, but I will try to give you an honest response!
      In my experience, after all the classes, all night study sessions, hundreds of lectures, midterms, etc… the most essential part of my education was the lessons I learned from my peers.
      I learned how to be a “Hampton Man,” how to carry myself in interviews, how to be professional, how to channel my emotions, how to survive, and how to be successful. I learned how to thrive in the “real world.” I never understood why people think that HBCUs stunt our capabilities of interacting in a majority dominant society… If anything, it gives us confidence, it teaches who we are, and allows us the much needed space to find ourselves, socially and academically.
      If you want to transfer to Hampton, you have to do your homework and be prepared to answer an onslaught of questions. You must be ready to answer how you will pay for school, provide a justification for your academic plans, and make your family see that this move is not purely an emotional one, but rather a well thought out and concise plan.
      Please keep me posted and let me know if there is anything we can do to help!

  11. My son is a sophomore at Tuskegee University and he has no regrets regarding his decision to attend an HBCU. He scored in the top 7 percentile nationally on the ACT and graduated high school with a 4.1 GPA with an Advanced Placement diploma. He was offered schoarships by the top Ivy League universities/colleges in the country. And, he easily chose TU because of its historical legacy and noted accomplishments of TU compter science graduates. I often tell people he entered TU a teenager but he is now a man, a TU Gentleman who has and walks with a certain level of certainty. He gradusted from a predominately wnite high school and was often made to feel like the token. When he graduated high svhool, he had only had three (3) black teachers. Regarding the fear that an HBCU graduate will have dufficulty in the real world, this can’t be farther from the truth. There is so much diversity within the faculty/staff and he has formed acquaintances with students from around the world. I am a graduate of predominately white u university and there was little diversity on the college campus. I encourage parents to research all prospective universities. My son said as soon as he stepped foot on the campus during TU’s 2012 Open House, he knew “this was the place.”

  12. For me, there were only 2 choices-Wilberforce or the Fashion Institute in NYC. Wilberforce snatched me 1st and off to OH from CT I went. My experience was everything I made it to be- which was AWESOME! my HS was a predominately white technical HS with only 15 of going to college. When I arrived there was a huge culture shock but great friends and wonderful professors helped to make it my home. I discovered my strengths, uncovered my flaws and embraced them, found friends for LIFE, made copious amounts of memories, had a baby & grew up and achieved excellence in spite of my faults at an HBCU. Being among young talented and gifted people who look just like me, doing the absolute most to make a difference while gaining a successful edge in the world was so profound. Being apart of an inclusive culture, thriving among the competition of your peers and still be uplifted and celebrated was magnanimous.
    All that I have achieved, I attribute to my HBCU experience. Even today, when I feel less than or spent from life and it pressures, I reflect on lessons learned during my days attending WU. The times my professors helped me hold it all together by encouraging me to fight for my education and to see the pride in their eyes as I walked across that stage will always stain my memories as I continue to strive for even more academic excellence.
    I chose my HBCU because of my church, being the proud A.M.E. that I was then, and still today, what other school is there but the 1st, the one Richard Allen bought just for me. Looking back, it was the best choice, the best years and one of the very best pieces of my life. FOREVER HBCU!!!!!!!

  13. I love this!
    When people ask me why i want to go to a HBCU I can never think of an answer they will like to hear. People tell me “Oh you can do so much better at Texas A&M or UT” but they don’t understand why I want to go to Prairie View or Jackson State. I’m a senior in high school and will be enrolling at either school in August. These comments are beyond the perfect explanation for why I’m choosing a HBCU. I’m so excited and looking forward to this amazing experience.

  14. Our son attended Clark Atlanta University 2013-2014 and did poorly. My husband and I are devestated. This was his 1st yesr and we are stuck on what are next move should be. He came in with a 3.0 and he now has a 2.0. What went wrong?..if anyone has any suggestion as to what direction we should take we would appreciate it…concerned family..

    • Most likely the drop in his gpa is due to him either not adjusting to the college life properly or not having his priorites in order. Some people do not adapt to change as well as others. And sometimes the freedom that comes with being at away from home and cause someone to forget the reason that they are attending their school (to get their education, not to party) . In either case I would say not to panic. We all make mistakes but I think it would be wise to talk to your son. And I mean actually talk and have a 2-way conversation. Help him to understand the depth of his situation but give him to interpret what you’re saying and make his own choices. Now he is becoming an afult and he needs to step up to the plate with mom and dad.

  15. Reading these replies has helped my husband and me to make the decision to send our only daughter to an HBCU. I want her to gain more than an education, but to also learn her rich heritage, support our Black institutions and meet other students who are destined to do great things in life. From this point onward, our focus will be toward finding the right fit for her. Thanks for all of your input!

  16. I am impressed with the article regarding HBCU’s and the important contributions they have made to the landscape of American higher education for the past 150 years. I just finished my first semester of college at GTCC in the Triad area of North Carolina and will be transferring to UNC-Greensboro this fall. After doing some research and contemplating on the academic, social and spiritual belonging that HBCU’S bring to student’s collegiate experience, i am in the process of transferring to North Carolina A@T State University for the spring 2016 and planning on majoring in Liberal Studies with a minor in history. Transferring to an HBCU from a PWI can help me to become more attuned to my African American heritage as well as learn about the contributions that civil rights leaders made to ensure equal rights and protections for all citizens from every background and ethnic group within the United States.

    • This is awesome to hear! Congratulations on all of your accomplishments and I wish you much success in the near future.

      Attending HBCUs have many benefits (and of course challenges as does any institution), the personal attention I received was instrumental in preparing me for my future.

      The current chair of A&T’s history department is Dr. Arwin Smallwood and he is amazing! You are in good hands there.

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