I am a man that conducted his undergrad scholarly duties at an HBCU (historically black college and university). I am glad that I am a 2001 graduate of Alabama State University. Hell, I honestly would not be the man that I am if not for #myasu. However, I know that an education is what you make it. Even though I graduated from an HBCU, I do not rub it in the faces of those that did not.

Nowadays, we have to relegate ourselves to those that went to PWI (predominantly white institutions) acting as if HBCU’s serve as the lowest common denominator of education. Personally, I was aware of such conversations. As such, when I caught wind of this debate I was confused. The confusion does not come from the fact that some believe PWI’s are better than HBCU’s. The confusion came from the fact that it was a black woman making this statement.

HBCUs vs PWIs

I was beleaguered to see an African American woman that pledged allegiance to a sorority found on an HBCU (Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.) make such a claim. Another reason for my beleaguered mind was the fact that pushing an HBCU vs. PWI mentality does nothing. If people are aware of how colleges (and real education) work, then they would understand the discussion is a waste of time.

HBCU’s vs. PWI’s: The Misunderstanding

Oddly enough, I would understand why people would want to consider HBCU’s “inferior”. There are opportunities to be had at PWI’s. Many of the rankings for PWI’s do not always include HBCU’s. Even further, going to a PWI gives many African American students a “diverse experience” that some of them may need to navigate in the real world [1]. Thus, picking a PWI over an HBCU can be the wiser choice.

HBCU’s vs. PWI’s: A Better Tomorrow

Yet, no matter how “good” a PWI is, many cannot discount the fact that HBCU’s give plenty of their own tangibles that need to be acknowledged. Once these aspects were given light, it made the entire discussion that much more comical.

HBCU vs PWI 2

There are a few things that people need to take in as they view this silly argument:

1.) Many HBCU’s are “specialty schools”: Picking an HBCU is (mainly) all about the degree in which you seek. There are reasons why FAMU and Alabama A&M have the names that they have.

2.) HBCU’s tend to work students harder: Plenty of these HBCU’s are aware of the stigma that is put upon them. Many have refused to be seen as inferior in any form or fashion. So, there is a tendency to be rigorous for another reason besides real-world preparation. I should know: I have had plenty of friends graduate from Alabama State’s College ofBusiness Administration. Getting out of there is like pledging a fraternity/sorority (even though pledging is illegal or whatever).

3.) GPA’s at PWI’s aren’t always trustworthy: Then, there is the stigma that deals with legacy students and parents in power at PWI’s. Some of these students have parents that are quite influential. Their influence carries on into the classroom. You do the math.

4.) HBCU’s tend to be smaller and that is a good thing: plenty of HBCU’s are not overtly large in population. When your population is not very large, there will be a tendency for your class sizes to not be very large as well. From that point, you have a more personal experience in gaining your education. You become more of a “person” and less of a “number in a lecture hall”.

5.) HBCU’s tend to have a different culture than PWI’s: when I talk to plenty of people about HBCU’s, there is always a sense of community that they mention. Having that sense of community is very important when dealing with the trials and tribulations of undergrad. It always works out better when you have clear support systems and worthwhile people around you. I am just saying.

HBCU’s vs. PWI’s : The Conclusion

At the end of the day, the only thing that should matter is what you gain from your collegiate experience. It really depends on the college you attend and the subject matter you major in. However, do not discount what HBCU’s have to offer. Many may not be as “prestigious” or “well known” as other PWI’s. However, the experience can be just as rewarding (if not more).

Now, can we discuss more important matters like student loans, lack of student grants, and the growing cost of education? That is much more my speed.

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A hip hop head that heralds from Gary, Indiana, Darcwonn now resides in the Atlanta area. When he is not teaching 6th graders how to make the most of what they read and write, he makes sure to write for his blog (www.chocolatecoveredlies.com), promote hip hop he enjoys for Emilio Sparks and Dead End Hip Hop, and review albums/music events and do interviews for Stacks Magazine. His educational pursuits led him through the throngs of Alabama State University, The University of Phoenix, and the University of Calumet – St. Joseph. On his down time, Darcwonn likes to relax, observe the world, and see his daughter grow into a young woman.