HBCUs Attract Recent Graduates

Alexandria Williams, Opinion Reporter

  Historically Black Colleges and Universities were founded before the Civil War, to provide African-American students the opportunity to further their education. During the mid 1900s, the Brown v. Board of Education decision encouraged integration between black Americans and white Americans in college institutions; however, many black students continued to gravitate towards HBCUs. 

In the United States, there are 107 Historically Black Colleges and Universities. HBCUs have the highest number of  first generation African American college graduates. At North Little Rock High School, several recent graduates from the class of 2019 headed off to HBCUs after graduation. Justin Austin, North Little Rock High School alumni and current Xavier University student says, “People don’t understand that HBCUs are the key to black liberation and freedom, and they open the pathway to be great in whatever field you choose.”

Many students knew right away they would enjoy their HBCU college experience. “I felt really welcomed the first day,” says Daiovyan Craig- Jarrett, a recent NLRHS graduate who now attends University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. 

Unfortunately, some have misconceptions about HBCUs because they are seen as inferior due to racial stereotypes. Mikiyah Baldwin, a current Xavier University student states, “The reality is completely different from what most people think.  They’re just as studious and as accredited as other institutions. There’s so much hidden talent that doesn’t get recognized because HBCUs are so overlooked.” 

While some believe that HBCUs focus more on fun than academics, Baldwin says that’s not the case. “If you had no prior knowledge of HBCUs, you’d think they’re all party schools or their education is less than what it is,” says Baldwin. “That isn’t true in the slightest.”

Some students always knew they would end up at an HBCU. “I always knew I would attend an HBCU because the idea of being surrounded not only by black excellence but also by the diversity that is in black culture would be something I’d have to experience,” says Jamee McAdoo, a former Central High student who attends Jackson State University. McAdoo shares what she thinks makes HBCUs so special. “I believe HBCUs are underrated in terms of education. People always assume it’s not a world class education offered at HBCUs but the professors here are some of the most qualified and overqualified professionals in the entire nation,” says McAdoo. 

As the class of 2020 searches for the perfect college after high school, Mikiyah Baldwin explains that it’s important one visits the university, asks current students their opinion, and ensures the university has your major. She also states that in the end, it doesn’t matter whether you attend a historically black institution or not; it only matters if the school is right for you.

“Go with the college that fits you best, whether it be a PWI or an HBCU,” advises Baldwin.  

“Don’t be afraid to step outside the box, and just really put things into perspective.  Ask yourself if you can see yourself at that school for the next couple years of your life, and ask yourself will it get you to where you need and desire to be.”