There is no experience like a Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCU) Homecoming. It is so much of an experience that Beyonce sold her Coachella performance, Homecoming, as a concert film to Netflix in 2019.
HBCUs are still relevant today.
There are three main points that I would like to help support the relevance of HBCUs in 2020.
(1) In today’s social climate, HBCUs are a space where not only Black/African Americans can learn one’s history, but they are a place where any person of the African Diaspora can be nurtured and cultivated. Additionally, HBCUs are not monolithic; therefore, opportunities are available to all. This is inclusive of those non-blacks, non-traditional students, and anybody that is interested in being in a truly diverse space.
(2) This link details several myths about HBCUs and I find it to be a great resource, including several social media profiles that are current media outlets for HBCUs. My input will be focused on career readiness, employability, and continuing postgraduate education.
(3) There is a documentary found on Prime and PBS entitled, “Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities.” I highly encourage you to watch it if you’re interested in attending an HBCU.
Historically Black Colleges and Universities Edition Fact or Fiction
There are a lot of myths surrounding HBCUs. Let’s dive into 4 historically black colleges and universities fact or fiction.
1. Fiction: If I attend an HBCU, then I won’t be prepared for the workforce.
Not only as an HBCU alum but also as an educational consultant, my advice to parents and students alike is to make sure you select the right school for your major/career path. Steven Covey’s principle of beginning with the end in mind is how I advise individuals to begin their process.
Essentially, don’t select a school that doesn’t have the program of interest. This doesn’t position one to be in the right direction. I recommend to my clients the following:
- Join a student professional organization
- Identify a faculty or staff member that has field experience
- Get an internship
All of these opportunities and more are available with an HBCU experience.
A historic and prime example of someone being prepared for civil service was recently made with Senator Kamala Harris being named as the first African American woman nominated for national office by a major political party.
Here are some resources to read:
- Positive News for HBCUs
- 4 Ways Being An HBCU Grad Can Benefit Your Job Search
- Diverse Conversations: 4 Ways HBCUs Can Prepare Students for Lack of Workplace Diversity
2. Fiction: Employers don’t hire HBCU grads.
When most companies, especially those in Corporate America, are seeking diverse talent, most of them do so by recruiting students that are HBCU students.
Several professional organizations have a student umbrella such as the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), Black Data Processors Association (BDPA), and National Sales Network (NSN) to name a few.
Students often attend the aforementioned organization’s conferences and walk away with a job offer. One of my clients had five interviews set before attending the NSBE convention, and Intel hired him.
Here are some resources to read:
- Secretary DeVos Announces Grant Funds to Expand STEM-Focused Education Opportunities for Students at HBCUs, MSIs
- Enhancing HBCU Competitiveness
3. Fact: HBCUs have post-baccalaureate degree programs.
The majority of black PhDs, engineers, dentists, and teachers are HBCU alumni. Several HBCUs have graduate and professional degree programs. Another added benefit is the student to professor ratio is smaller than a lot of R1 (research) schools.
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. has a national initiative called, HBCU For Life: A Call to Action. Alpha Kappa Alpha will continue its focus on education with an emphasis on historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). I have included a link about that program as a reference.
Read this: Top Graduate Schools At HBCUs
4. Fact: Athletic facilities are worth comparing.
Lastly, one of the athletic conferences for HBCUs is the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC). Often when student athletes are seeking a school to attend, the facilities are high on the list.
Compare Alabama State and Prairie View football, Texas Southern University, Alabama State, and Grambling facilities to Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) facilities. Simply doing a comparative analysis of one athletic facility in comparison to another should be part of a student athlete’s checklist.
Former Dallas Cowboy, Deion Sanders is now the head football coach at Jackson State University (JSU) in the SWAC. Lastly, Dr. Charles McClelland, SWAC Commissioner, has expanded the conference by adding Florida A&M University (FAMU) and Bethune Cookman to its division.
Being actively engaged and current with what is happening with the academics, coaching, facilities, and the division should be the minimal criteria when selecting an athletic program.
Written By: Amanda J. Henry, M.S.
Amanda J. Henry, M.S., is an independent educational consultant with experience as an adjunct professor in undergraduate and professional degree programs as well as administrative experience in Higher Education. She has over 10 years of experience with specialization in HBCUs, Career Readiness, STEM, Pre-Health Professional Sciences, & Experiential Learning (internships/fellowships).
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