Let’s Talk About HBCUsJul 09, 2022 11:00AM ● By Kyrah Page
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
I am a huge advocate of having a plan after high school. Whether it be going to college, trade school, or the military; I do not care what it is just HAVE A PLAN! My plan was to go to college, but not just any college. I attend Lincoln University – the first Historically Black College or University (HBCUs). Now, those who attend or have attended an HBCU know they have their pros and cons but in my opinion, it is the best option. Many will argue that attending an HBCU is a setback because as a Black person, you should know how to work and navigate in a White-dominated world. While that may be true, I still say go to an HBCU.
Let me tell you why BLACK EXCELLENCE is important. Black youth need to see other Black youth thriving and going after what they want. It is empowering and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We have the rest of our lives to be a minority. Going to an HBCU will be quite an experience however, if you are not prepared for it, you will have culture shock. Allow me to prepare you a bit for what it will be like attending an HBCU…
Black Melting Pot?
Do not be fooled! Just because it is an HBCU does not mean there is no diversity. Yes, you may see other minority groups like Latinos or Africans, but you will also be exposed to other Black professors and students that come from different religions as well as culture, creeds, and economic levels. During my first year at Lincoln, I made friends from Philly, New York, Jersey, Delaware, Florida and even California. Each and every friend I made from those places were completely different. As everyone began getting closer, we started sharing stories and learned of each other's cultures. You begin to try different foods and dances. Many of us even started picking up each other's slang and accents unintentionally. When you spend so much time together, it is bound to happen. From my personal experience, I have seen so many beautiful people and I find myself being more open to learning about others and where they come from. Make sure you stay open minded!
The Black excellence can be overwhelming but do not let it intimidate you!
When you come to an HBCU, expect to see Black students that know who they are and are not afraid to go after what they want. It can be scary sometimes to see people so sure of themselves when they are still trying to figure out who they are and what they want. However, do not let it discourage you. It is not a competition but an opportunity to learn from those who are before you. Instead of recoiling into your shell, go talk to them. Ask them questions and use them as a resource on your journey to find yourself. Do not feel like you have to change who you are or compare your growth/success to others. Everyone at an HBCU is just aiming to better him/herself so push yourself to do the same. It is all love here!
Read about HBCU Student, Kun'Tre Pharaoh:
Kun’Tre Pharaoh: Student at HBCU Launches Health Brand Ahead of Ultimate Goal to Own Hospital or Healthcare Clinic
Kun’Tre Pharaoh, a student at Winston-Salem State University, hopes to one day establish and operate a hospital or healthcare clinic that provides services inclusive of a mixture of holis... Read More »
You might want to get used to this word because you will be hearing and seeing it a lot. HBCUs are all about uplifting each other and wanting to see each other win. So networking is a huge part of that. I have a brand called “Keepin’ It Kultured.” It is a platform where we aim to educate, empower, and inspire the Black community through art and activism. When it became public knowledge that I had a brand, people always looked out for me. They would support me or send me vending opportunities. They would do anything they could to help and show me some love! It was amazing how many people watched my videos or bought my merchandise. I was able to connect with people who could help me take my brand to the next level all because of the networking scene at my HBCU and other HBCUs. Keep in mind that HBCUs will always water their own so do not be afraid to get out there and connect with people!
Yes, issues are inevitable
It is no secret that HBCUs have their own issues. Whether it be lack of funding, housing, the “runaround,” un-organization, etc. No HBCU is perfect, but you make it work. For example, as a freshman you do not have the luxury of air conditioning or elevators at Lincoln. You can imagine how move-in day went (I lived on the third floor). It was horrible but all the freshmen struggled and complained together! It was a part of the freshman experience, our experience. Sometimes it can be frustrating, but you learn to adapt.
There is ALWAYS something going on
You will never truly be bored at an HBCU. There is always some party, event, step show, water gun fight - SOMETHING! Studies should always come first but if you do not have anything to do then just go! Do not ask questions or anything. You want to make sure you enjoy your college experience. I knew plenty of people that did not go to one single school event during my freshman year, and they were miserable and oftentimes went home. Do not waste time by sitting in your room being antisocial because you will regret it. If you are shy, I implore you to put yourself out there!
Time management is key
Let’s circle back to our studies… Please remember to prioritize. HBCUs have a lot to offer socially but what you do not want to do is get distracted and flunk out. The graduation rate is a lot less than the enrollment rate so keep that in mind. Due to the fact that there is always something going on, you can always sit a few things out. You won’t be missing much! Don’t prioritize a party over that test; you need to be studying for. HBCUs are fun but the academics are not easy. They will sneak up on you and take you out if you don't practice time management. College is more fast-paced than high school and you can fall behind fast. The professors will not hold your hand either; if you fail eight out of ten, you just fail. It all depends on the professor, but I would not rely on that. So please, remember why you are there!
Take advantage of every opportunity
Every HBCU has a library. USE IT! There is so much rich history and information that is literally just sitting there. Do not limit yourself to just learning within the walls of the classroom. Take advantage of the orgs, professors, alumni, deans, or even other students. You are paying
an- arm-and-a-leg to go to college, so make sure you are jumping on every opportunity you can to learn, grow, bond, or build. HBCUs have many opportunities and oftentimes they are sitting right in your face; you just need to be brave enough to go after them.
Read a recap of FunTimes' previous event about attending HBCUs:
HBCUs are a safe haven for Black students, but financial challenges prevent a lot of people from attending. How can the community support these programs and potential students? Read More »
Choose your friends wisely
You want to make sure you are smart when picking your friends. Most times the friends you make as a first-year student will not be your friends when you graduate but I still urge you to be careful. Not all your friends have good intentions. They could be bad influences or just bad for you in general. Look for friends that uplift you and try to steer you in the right direction. Also look for friends that you can have a good time with. You do not want to invite drama or toxicity in your life. The people around you are a reflection of you, so keep that in mind too.
Keep your mental health in mind
College can be fast and overwhelming especially around midterms and finals. Make sure you take time to do some self-care. You do not want to over-work yourself to the point where your mental health is depleted. When I was on campus I often stressed myself out. To help me relax a bit I would take walks, chill with a friend, read, or just try to completely step away to give my brain a break. Yes, you want to make sure you do well, but you also want to make sure you are being fair to yourself.
We are broke but be smart with your money
At HBCUs something is always being sold in the dorms in the middle of the night. IT IS A TRAP! Y’all be smart with your money. I know you might want some Oreos from the girl in room 221 down the hall but you must be strong. It is really tempting to want to buy every taco, fried Oreo, buffalo chicken dip, or whatever people are selling at 3 A. M. However, most college students are broke. We spend money we do not have, and I am guilty of that too. Every now and then, sure. Everyday though, do not do it to yourself!
Build relationships with your professors
I cannot stress this enough! Your professors are the ones that can give you recommendation letters or opportunities. You want to make sure you build a bond with them because a professor that can vouch for your work ethic and your character, is a huge asset.
Don’t be too hard on yourself!
In college, you will make mistakes. Don’t be too hard on yourself. If you change your major, make the wrong friends, have a bad day, or even fail a class. Do not beat yourself up because it will happen. Speaking from experience, I am so hard on myself when I feel like I have failed. You just have to bounce back and shake it off. Dwelling in it will only make it worse!
Read about experiences from HBCU grads:
Areas HBCU Grads Refect
Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) have been educational and social safe havens for black students since the mid 19th cent... Read More »
Always remember, college is a learning experience and not just in the classroom. Take it one day at a time and enjoy it. HBCUs are an incredible opportunity and experience. HBCU pride!