HBCU vs. PWI: Just Go to an HBCU or Where Sallie Mae Can’t Find You

One of the most heated topics is PWI versus HBCU. Are they on equal footing? For prospective Black college students which is the better fit?

PWI equals Predominately White Institution and HBCU stands for Historically Black Colleges and Universities. HBCUs are colleges that were typically founded post the civil war and before 1964 when they Higher Education Act of 1965 was passed by Congress defining HBCUs. They were set up to give collegiate education access to Blacks who were kept out of PWIs en masse until the 1950s. There is a very deep & rich history behind HBCUs that is the pride of African American culture.

To be honest there is no right or wrong answer in this equation. The beauty of America, is that there is a diversity in pathways to achieve success. Go to an HBCU for undergrad go to a PWI for grad. Go to to a PWI for undergrad go to an HBCU for grad. HBCU for undergrad still winning…and enjoy a Greatest Homecoming Ever. PWI for undergrad still winning and maybe enjoy a championship winning basketball team.

It’s college, you’re finding yourself. You probably not even woke yet. You’re going to make mistakes. You need to make mistakes. Just do your Googles, so you know what you’re getting into. There are HBCUs and PWIs that have campuses in the middle of nowhere East bumble fish and you might hate your experience. It is a must that you visit all campuses before matriculation.

To be upfront, the administration at HBCUs can be severely lacking but there’s no place else you will experience the beauty in the diversity of Blackness outside of the yard at an HBCU. And yes that absolutely matters and benefits you in your higher education as you learn to navigate this world as a Black person in field dominated by others. That alumnae network will become your family. The FAMUly, Morehouse men, SpelmanitesAggies, the Real HU 1867 Bisons, Southernites, an honorary mention the Temple Made (though not an HBCU, no one knows till you visit) and many others are unique and established alumni networks. The sororities have a history and camaraderie that’s particular to the HBCU experience.

If you’re in a major that’s male dominated or not many minorities in general, going to an HBCU that ranks well in that program will provide you with the support you need to see it through both emotionally and academically. Now you may have to sleep outside the A building in order to register for class or to make sure you actually get assigned to the dorm that’s walking distance to campus. But there’s always some sort of compromise.

On the other hand, PWIs are better funded. They means more scholarship so you don’t
ever have to know that hoe Sallie Mae or the new thot Navient. State schools with good sports teams will have strong (and wealthy in resources + finacial) alumni networks. Do not sleep on how much college basketball and football can keep the old cronies financially invested in their alma mater. The financial resources means you have more opportunity to take advantage of programs that the college offers, like study abroad or internships that are vital for your career path. The facilities and administration might be revered and provide their own network outside of the schools alumni.  The A building actually has office hours that they stick to and a computer system that doesn’t magically lose your information every other week. The school funding allows you to use campus organizations and build out impactful programs that inspire others, giving you great organizational experience.

You have to the weigh the options for you. Think about the type of person you are and the person you want to become. What are your strengths and the weaknesses that you can improve upon? And really weigh out that financial risk. The small college in Kentucky can build out a lot of wit, humor and character, while providing you with opportunities that are harder to attain at more popular brand name institutions.  The state school might give you the financial freedom to really utilize your college experience. The history our ancestors paved in building up HBCUs might be what you need to be inspired and the support system that you need during this emotionally volatile time period.

You have time. Do what’s best for you and stay smart.


Empowering #SmartBrownGirls to find the power in their voice and define their own success stories. 

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