To HBCU or not to HBCU: That is the Question

Today my friends and I had an in-depth conversation over college. The topic was: Is it easier to transition into a career from a non-HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) or is it the same?

And as it happens I graduated from a State University, Mizzou or the University of Missouri-Columbia, and my other friend graduated from an HBCU.  The conversation was short but very insightful and I want to share with you some of the key factors we discussed.

Preparation for a career:

Friend: It seems that HBCUs don’t supply students with enough information to guide them into careers. There were certain certificates or prep courses that I could have taken that would have prepared me for career performance tests and certifications. Internships were not pushed in school but once I graduated that was a major ‘selling point’ for employers.

*DNC: My school continuously promoted and provided avenues to be active on campus and resources to seek out internships. However, it seemed like so much to do in only a 4 year time frame. At a one time I had to start working part-time, not in the industry I wanted to be in but to be able to pay for school. And once I graduated, the experience was minor compared to an internship that I could have done.


Friend: HBCUs reputations are taken in account when you are seeking out the school but it’s ironic that a lot of jobs don’t know their names so they don’t necessarily affect the interviewing process. I have a lot of friends who are doing well in their current careers.

*DNC: My school is recognized more since, sports-wise, we have been making noise. I remembered I interviewed for an out-of-state position, right after I graduated in 2002, and no one or only those who attended the school, were familiar with Mizzou. But now if I tell an employer that I went to Mizzou, they know about the Tigers, especially in Atlanta since they just moved to the SEC conference.

Overall Outlook:

Friend: Honestly, I think a lot of students are struggling right out of school because of the economy. It doesn’t matter if you went or are going to a HBCU, D-1 (Division 1 school in regards to NCAA sports), or a Private University; you still have to figure out what you need to do to move on successfully to the next step. Internships have been and continue to play a major factor in getting a good job right out of school.

*DNC: I have to agree. Even though I was active on campus, had decent grades and even worked part-time at several jobs, I still needed that internship experience to jump into my career. I am happy that I finally made it but it took a lot of different roads to get here. I think a straight shoot would have been great but hey, at least I can say that my education is finally paying off. Either way it’s definitely up to the student to create those opportunities especially now because being the normal student won’t cut it. Having internal drive is essential to making that leap into your dream job, but I guess, when has it not been the deciding factor.


What are your thoughts? Do you have speculations about HBCUs or do you feel like education is education?



2 Comments Add yours

  1. Shari Smith says:

    I agree that the “name” of the college gets you places. HBCU’s need to do a better job at promoting themselves for graduates to have the ability to drop the name and it gives them some pull in interviews.

  2. Anginique W. says:

    For me, coming from a diverse town & high school where more often then not i was the only black face in class, my HBCU gave me a deeper sense pride for my culture & community. Seeing people who looked like me achieve great things & who lift each other up. Although, I do wish HBCUs would get the recognition they deserve for academics and the caliber of students that come out of them, I still would not have changed my undergraduate experience.

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