A report from National Student Clearinghouse indicates that there’s approximately 1.5 million fewer students enrolled in college than before the pandemic. However, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) and online schools have seen an increase in their enrollment numbers. This according to the Wall Street Journal article College Enrollment Declines Again Though Online Schools, HBCUs See Increases.
The spotlight was on HBCUs in episode 90 of C-CRETS, where we talked with Dr. Derrick Gilmore, Executive Vice President at Stillman College. During the episode, we shared that according to the National Center on Education Statistics, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are institutions that were established prior to 1964 with the principal mission of educating Black Americans. These institutions were founded and developed in an environment of legal segregation and, by providing access to higher education, they contributed substantially to the progress black Americans made in improving their status.
There are 101 HBCUs located in 19 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Of the 101 HBCUs, 52 are public institutions and 49 are private nonprofit institutions with a total of 280,000 students. Non-black students make up about 24 percent of the total student population at these institutions.
What may have surprised some of our listeners is that HBCUs are driving the social mobility of black graduates better than other institutions.
At C-CRETS, we like to back up what we share with receipts. And according to the Social Mobility Report of HBCU Alumni by the United Negro College Fund, HBCUs educate 10% of all black college students. These institutions account for 19% of degrees earned by black students in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields. Additionally, HBCUs account for 80% of black judges, 50% of black doctors, and 50% of black lawyers.
As a general note, an HBCU graduate working full-time throughout their career can expect to earn $927,000 in additional income as opposed to non-college goers and black students at non-HBCUs.
This receipt matters because it validates how HBCUs are positively affecting the socioeconomic gap of African-Americans. Likewise, it also highlights that elite universities are not the only places of learning that can foster the upward social mobility of black students.
HBCUs are also providing them with these opportunities.
HBCUs comprise 3% of postsecondary institutions in the U.S. However, these institutions are more receptive to first-generation college students, as well as those from low-income households. HBCU’s primary focus has always been to provide black students access to higher education. Because HBCUs are more likely to offer affordable education to low-income and underrepresented students, there is a greater probability of upward economic mobility.
Taking a broader perspective on HBCUs, in addition to affordability, HBCUS are also providing students with quality education. Some of the best educational institutions in the nation are HBCUs including Howard University, Stillman College, and Morehouse College.
In addition, these institutions facilitate robust alumni networks that serve students long after graduation, allowing them to tap into networks that offer them leverageable opportunities.
For some students, an HBCU institution is chosen because they want an environment where they feel safe. These students view HBCUs as safe spaces where they can be themselves before entering the corporate arena, where they’ll be expected to code-switch and adjust to work institutions where they’ll most likely be classified as a minority. An HBCU will give them the accessibility to the education and resources that they need, whilst they’re free to have a sense of pride in who they are amongst peers that look like them.
Lastly, media and notable role models, from Oprah Winfrey, who attended Tennessee State University to Vice President Kamala Harris, who graduated from Howard, continue to carve their places in the history books, and attract the attention of those who look up to them.
So, the next time you talk to a young person who’s looking at colleges, ask them if they’re also considering an HBCU.