The Historically Black College & University

Choosing the right historically black college for you

For many students, success in higher education is dependant on the ability to find the perfect college and fit in well at that school. Different students have different wants and needs, and it is often difficult to find one institution that will meet all of those needs. For this reason, several college-bound students elect to limit their pursuit of higher education to a historically black college and university search.

A Brief History of Historically Black Colleges and Universities

Before the Civil War, finding a black college or university was all but impossible. At that time, higher education for African American students was virtually nonexistent, and those who did receive schooling were often taught in an informal or perhaps even hostile setting. Some schools did exist for elementary and secondary education, but if an African American student desired a higher education, they were forced to teach themselves.

After the Civil War, things slowly began to change. In 1890, The Morrill Land-Grant Act specified that states using federal land-grant funds to open colleges and universities were required to either make their schools open for both blacks and whites, or to allocate money for segregated black colleges to serve as an alternative to white schools. Between 1870 and 1910, several historical black colleges and universities were established from state legislatures, and with the help of African American churches, the demand for these institutions increased in years to come.

Also creating a demand for black college establishment were the unique viewpoints of African American leaders Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Dubois. Washington, a freed slave from Virginia, graduated from Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute where he developed a talent for jobs in the skilled trade. After graduation, he took the helm of Tuskegee Institute and prepared several blacks for agricultural and mechanical trades. Dubois took a different approach. He believed African Americans also needed training in liberal arts and sciences, and openly feuded with Washington over the proper approach to educating blacks.

Throughout this period of debate, attendance at black colleges quickly grew, as did the financial support from the government and individual philanthropists such as John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie. These institutions were improving, but HBCUs still had many challenges to face, including the Great Depression and WWII. Learn more about the history of HBCUs, as well as a variety of resources for those planning to attend a historically black college.

Find the Right Historically Black College or University For You

With more than 4,000 colleges and universities in the United States, it can be difficult to choose the right one for you. Our recommendation is to begin your Historically Black College and University search early.

Start by creating a list of the most important factors you desire in a school, such as location, student body size, or areas of study. Once you have established your list of desirable attributes, begin narrowing down available choices.

We then recommend that you visit the schools on your list, as campus visits have proven to be the number-one method for college-bound students deciding whether or not a school is the right fit. Different campuses have different cultures, and by starting your college search early, you will give yourself a better chance to find the one that is right for you.

The Historically Black College and University Experience

Because there isn’t one universal determinant of the perfect school, it is important that you identify what you deem most important personally. For some, larger colleges and universities with a vast array of diversity suits them best. Others thrive at smaller schools where they can more easily find peace and solitude. If you are in search for the perfect school, keep in mind the following HBCU advantages:

  • Small class sizes—HBCUs often have small class sizes compared to those of larger colleges and universities. This typically allows for students and teachers to get to know each other on a more personal level. It also means that students at a historic black college may receive more one-on-one time with their professors than those at larger universities.
  • Community service—A large part of the HBCU experience is community service. This often includes mentoring elementary, middle, and high school students to encourage and enhance their development while giving them a taste of collegiate life. It is an experience that will stay with you for life.
  • Graduate school—Recruiters for graduate schools and companies of every size and type often visit HBCUs in search of diversity and talent they are unable to find elsewhere. These organizations understand the importance of diversity in today’s world and value the higher education provided at HBCUs.

Of all the factors to consider when determining which college is right for you, it is important to remember that a large part of choosing a college is revealing not only what you want to be, but also who you want to be. The Historically Black College and University experience can help give you an idea about your identity and provide the resources necessary to shape your unique character.

To learn more about the HBCU experience as well as alumni perspectives, please follow this link: Historically Black College and University Opportunities

College-Bound Student Information

In addition to providing information and resources for those planning to attend a Historical Black College, CollegeView also offers an extensive amount of valuable information and resources to help you in your choice for an educational and career pathway:


This article was written by Jeff McGuire

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.