Finding your best-fit college comes down to a few things -- mainly academics, cost and location. But one thing that often plays just as big a role is the school's general atmosphere. The more comfortable students feel at a school, the more likely they are to open themselves up to involvement in the programs offered there, which in turn often leads to more success. For many, on-campus diversity helps to create an environment where it's easier to thrive. If that describes you, read on for some information on schools that specifically serve certain types of students — like Historically Black Colleges or Universities (HBCUs) — or how to find a more racially mixed campus.
Historically Black Colleges and Universities
Attending an HBCU today means you'll have access to resources that operate with a base in the African American experience. Everything from clubs and student organizations to course selection to alumni events and connections will all be tailored to overcome obstacles that might otherwise still be present in a predominantly white school setting. Now, if you're considering attending an HBCU, you might be worried that you'll actually miss out on the diversity another school has to offer — that's not the case! HBCUs will still accept students from all races and walks of life; the focus will just be on creating an environment that feels more inclusive.
Predominantly Black Institutions
Predominantly Black Institutions (PBIs) may seem like another way to talk about HBCUs, but there's a slight difference. More than half of the student body at a PBI will consist of black students. So while HBCUs tend to be predominantly black, not all PBIs will be HBCUs. It all comes down to the mission and ideals the college was founded on, which also typically plays into when the college was founded. Two examples are Bloomfield College and Medgar Evers College. These schools still offer that more inclusive setting to a lot of students, but it's important to know the difference when figuring out where to apply.
Other College Choices
Of course, you don't have to choose either an HBCU or a PBI to get a diverse experience — it's just one of the many options available to you. Black students are often the most represented demographic on a lot of college campuses, meaning that while they may not make up the majority of the student population, that majority is not made up of one specific other race but is rather spread out across several others.
So if your goal is to simply have a college experience you can share with African American students, you don't have to look exclusively at HBCUs. When crafting your college list, you may also consider the availability of organizations that are driven by students of similar backgrounds at any given institution. You might be surprised by what you find — sometimes these will include anything from Greek Life opportunities to student unions, all with people who share similar experiences and backgrounds leading up to their years in college.
Overall, the number of options out there reinforces how important it is to closely examine the campus culture wherever you choose to apply. Keep in mind that what you see on a college's website or in a flyer may not be entirely representative of the school's actual campus life. Visit the school and research on your own! And be sure to read up on the schools you're considering in our Best 385 Colleges rankings lists before making your final decisions.
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