Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are places where the swag-surf is a right of passage and black excellence seeps through the yard. HBCUs are institutions where alumni range from Anthony Anderson, Langston Hughes and Oprah Winfrey. As a proud student of Howard University, one of the top HBCUs in the nation, I am filled with joy to give you a little glimpse as to why HBCUs are unique. Attending an HBCU is an experience like no other. Here are 12 reasons why:
1. The diversity (contrary to common belief) that exists at HBCUs.
I never realized how diverse the black community was until I attended an HBCU. You will find people from all over the world on campus and learn to appreciate different cultures. Also, HBCUs aren’t exclusive to just black students — there are several people of other ethnic backgrounds that attend HBCUs for both their historical legacy and educational options.
2. Getting a grade-A education in being “woke”.
You don’t have to take an African-American studies class to see how much black culture has contributed to the world or to realize that institutional and systematic racism still exists. Every class at an HBCU is embedded with some form of African-American studies! In math, you learn about black mathematicians. Your Spanish teacher is most likely Afro-Latin and your English readings are most likely written by black authors instead of dead white poets.
3. Learning how to be stylish because every day is a fashion show.
At an HBCU you never know who will pop up (Famous Alumni? The First Lady?) or what will happen on campus so it’s behooves everyone to always look their best. You won’t catch anybody wearing pajamas to class or walking out of their dorm with a wet head of hair. HBCUs teach you how to be on point, all the time.
4. Meeting successful black alumni that will actually be the “plug” for your career.
HBCU graduates are everywhere and so are the prestigious politicians, actresses, business people and athletes among them. No matter which industry you get into, there is an HBCU alum paving paths for fellow HBCU attendees that are often willing to offer mentorship, advice and guidance to rising students. Just a few examples are Howard University graduate Debbie Allen, North Carolina A&T graduate Terrance J and Spelman graduate Alice Walker.
5. The “glo up” and the grow up process at HBCUs are real.
People always say you really find yourself in college and I don’t know a statement truer than that. You’ll be surprised at how much you change in just one year of college. The change is inevitable. By the time you’re a senior, you’ll be looking at pictures from freshman year in disbelief.
My freshman year
My junior year
6. You are surrounded by hustlers and inspirational black people.
You are no longer one out of three smart black kids in class. You are now surrounded by a surplus of intelligent, beautiful people who make you want to do better in life. The great thing about HBCUs is that your peers inspire you without even knowing it.
— ZARO (@itsCEASE_) February 16, 2016
7. You learn how to time manage on a whole ‘nother level.
The way students are able to juggle between having multiple assignments due, running a campaign for SGA president, planning an event, a job and an internship while still making time to go party on a Friday night is still fascinating to me. I have no idea how we do it but it is truly amazing.
8. Man oh man, there are beautiful people everywhere.
One of the underwritten requirements to attend an HBCU (in my opinion) is being beautiful. Everywhere you turn the most stunning women and handsome men are in your presence.
9. All your friends want to come to your homecoming.
NCAT’s homecoming isn’t called GHOE, greatest homecoming on earth, for no reason. Drake wouldn’t have crashed Howard’s homecoming if it wasn’t that awesome.
— Franny D (@FrannyDiva) February 2, 2016
10. You get to be unapologetically black.
At an HBCU your peers get it. You don’t have to explain to people how your hair “magically” grew from your shoulders to your butt overnight. Or why you pilfered a loaf of bread from the cafeteria. We all understand the struggle and it’s a beautiful feeling having a safe haven where no one judges you.
Of course with all good things come bad so here’s two of the biggest reasons why an HBCU will make you seriously consider transferring to a PWI.
11. The financial aid building will drive you insane.
Avoid the financial aid office at all cost. It is one of the most dreaded places to go because it feels as if nobody in the building cares about you. Everything in there is a battle and you must be prepared to argue if you want anything accomplished. On the bright side, the financial aid office builds character because you wont be caught slipping ever again. You’ll always make sure you keep copies of all documents, take names of the staffer who helped you and record all conversations had there for future purposes.
12. Everything is “historical” so most things are outdated.
Let’s just say that the struggle is real. Most buildings don’t have air conditioning, the elevators move extremely slow and the wifi never works.
Despite people always questioning if HBCUs are still needed, students of these institutions continue to show society the importance of HBCUs by serving their communities, being leaders of social movements and impacting the industries they work in.