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4 Reasons Why You Should Consider an HBCU

HBCU logos

This post is from a student, parent, or professional contributor. The opinions expressed by the author are their own and do not necessarily reflect the positions, viewpoints, or policies of Niche.

You should really think about adding some Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to your college search list.

While they do cater to Black students—

HBCUs were founded to expand academic and career opportunities for Black students, starting as primary and secondary schools set up in church basements and people’s homes and expanding to undergraduate, graduate and professional programs that now educate doctors, lawyers, politicians, engineers, dentists, and much more, significantly advancing success and representation for Black Americans.

HBCUs of today also educate students of all races and ethnicities.

They offer fantastic support services for their students, quality and affordable education, rich campus culture, and a uniquely diverse and inclusive environment. Plus, the benefits of attending an HBCU extend far beyond your college graduation.

With 107 HBCUs across the United States, you can choose from a wide variety of locations and programs. Let’s explore four ways HBCUs can prove to be the perfect fit for you.

1. Academic support and resources go above and beyond.

black professor

HBCUs offer robust and high-quality academic programs. Schools like Morehouse College, Spelman College and Howard University are nationally recognized for the world-class education they provide. 

HBCUs are especially noted for strong programs in STEM fields. Twenty-five percent of Black graduates with STEM degrees studied at HBCUs, including 30 percent of Black graduates of STEM doctorate programs.

HBCUs are also known for the high level of academic support and resources provided to students. Because HBCUs were founded at a time when their students did not have prior access to educational opportunities, they continue to accommodate the needs of educationally disadvantaged students and those who struggle academically. Most have developmental centers, reading labs and extensive counseling and tutoring services. 

25 percent of Black graduates with STEM degrees studied at HBCUs.

Similarly, professors at HBCUs generally use active teaching practices and prioritize personal and social responsibility.

Thirty-five percent of Black graduates of HBCUs strongly agree that they had a professor who cared about them as a person, a professor who got them excited about learning and a mentor who inspired them to pursue their goals.

As a result, HBCUs typically boast high graduation rates. Black graduates of HBCUs are more likely than non-HBCU graduates to agree that their schools provided adequate support and experiential learning opportunities.

2. Inclusive community embraces students’ cultures.

black students at computer

HBCUs are steeped in history, tradition and culture.

Campus culture is rooted in the Black and African American experience, including music, arts, literature, religion and an emphasis on social justice.

HBCUs boast a thriving Greek life, celebrated marching bands and dance teams, community-based service programs, and vibrant homecoming celebrations and other traditional social events.

At most campuses, you can expect a thriving Greek life, celebrated marching bands and dance teams, community-based service opportunities, and vibrant homecoming celebrations and other traditional social events.

For Black students who have never experienced such an emphasis and celebration of their culture, HBCU campus culture can be especially affirming. It’s meaningful to become part of the history and legacy of HBCUs, and courses in all subjects emphasize Black and African American history and culture in a way you’re unlikely to find at other universities. 

Best-selling author Ta-Nehisi Coates refers to his alma mater Howard University as a “Mecca” for Black people, explaining that “the safety and affirmation of Black universities has been a haven” for countless students.

In fact, HBCUs provide a safe, nurturing and inclusive environment for all students.

Today, 1 in 4 HBCU students are non-Black, and HBCUs are attracting increasing numbers of international students. The diverse, culturally vibrant community provides a uniquely valuable college experience.

3. Connections extend beyond college and into careers.

black women in front of mural

The community-based, supportive campus environment at HBCUs extends to life after graduation.

HBCU graduates report that attending an HBCU is like joining a lifelong sorority or fraternity where the members look out for one another.

Almost all HBCUs have highly active alumni associations for their graduates, providing extensive networking opportunities and important professional connections. These connections can lead to mentorship and recommendations from prominent individuals, internships and careers.

Black HBCU graduates are more prepared for post-college life and more engaged at work than non-HBCU graduates.

Graduates of any HBCU can also join the National HBCU Alumni Association and location-based networks in metro areas like Atlanta and D.C. 

Additionally, HBCUs are known as diverse institutions with high concentrations of top talent, making them hot spots for job recruiters. Recruiters from leading U.S. companies routinely visit HBCUs to meet and interview students.

Studies also show that Black HBCU graduates are more prepared for post-college life and more engaged at work than non-HBCU graduates. They are more likely to thrive in all five areas of well-being: financial well-being, community well-being, purpose well-being, social well-being and physical well-being.

Critics of HBCUs have questioned whether they are still necessary or relevant. These statistics indicate that HBCUs continue to provide a supportive, enriching and empowering education for Black students, leaving them better prepared for happiness, fulfillment and success after graduation.

HBCUs remain vitally important and relevant, even as they continue efforts to make education affordable and accessible for all students.

4. Most have lower tuition than traditionally white universities.

black student at laptop

You can find both public and private HBCUs across the United States, with varying tuition costs. But a significant number of HBCUs have lower tuition and fees than traditionally white universities. They also tend to offer numerous sources of financial assistance, including scholarships, grants, work-study programs and loans.

HBCUs offer plentiful financial assistance, resources, support, and welcoming communities, especially for first-generation, low-income students.

Many individuals who attend HBCUs are first-generation, low-income college students. As a result, HBCUs offer especially plentiful financial assistance, as well as student resources, student support, and warm, welcoming communities willing to embrace and affirm all students.

Final Thoughts: Why You Should Consider an HBCU

As you research colleges and create your list of favorites, you have many reasons to consider checking out HBCUs. They have a long, illustrious history rich in advancement, excellence and culture.

To sum it all up, the benefits of attending an HBCU include:

  • High-quality academic programs, especially in STEM fields
  • Extensive academic and personal support for students
  • Inclusive, diverse, and welcoming campus cultures 
  • Vibrant campus life
  • Highly active alumni networks
  • Better post-college preparation and greater post-college well-being, particularly for Black graduates
  • Overall affordability and accessibility 

Although HBCUs provide especially significant benefits for Black students, they offer a unique and supportive college experience to students from all races, ethnicities and backgrounds.

So, if you’re interested in a STEM career, want to learn more about Black history and culture, or would like to attend a school with a diverse and supportive environment, an HBCU may be the right fit for you.

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Author: Jason Patel

Jason Patel is the founder of Transizion, a college counseling and career services company that provides mentorship and consulting on college applications, college essays, resumes, cover letters, interviews, and finding jobs and internships. Jason’s work has been cited in The Washington Post, BBC, NBC News, Forbes, Fast Company, Bustle, Inc., Fox Business, and other great outlets. Transizion donates a portion of profits to underserved students and veterans in of college prep and career development assistance.