In the grand search of colleges and universities to attend to, one type of institution you may be inclined to apply to could be a Historically Black College and University (HBCU). HBCUs are open to all students but, in regards to diversity, their student population makes of 50% or more Black students.
Depending on the environment you grew up in, attending an HBCU may provide a more positive learning experience. Not only would you be receiving an education with a strong history in pushing for equality and equity, but also, as first generation college students and for students of Color, it is imperative that we see representation in our education. There are various studies that show students of Color are more successful and have higher retention rates when they attend HBCUs, as well as HSIs (Hispanic Serving Institutions) versus PWIs (Predominantly White Institutions).
If attending either of these types of institutions may not be something you want to do, another avenue to seek diversity in your academic career would be to take a few classes in Ethnic Studies. Ethnic Studies is the interdisciplinary study of race, class, sexuality, indigeneity, and gender that focuses on people of Color’s experience in the United States and in the world. Taking Ethnic Studies not only encourages you to interact with people from different backgrounds and experiences, but for students of Color, it can become a home away from home.
How can a department be a home away from home?
As someone that attended a PWI, I found solace and support in my Ethnic Studies Department. While I attended my PWI and my grades began to slip, it was the encouragement I received from my Chicanx Studies professors and peers that I began to find my confidence in myself and my capability in that institution. Once I immersed myself within my Chicanx Studies classes, I then found myself building a solid foundation in my academic career, building ties with faculty, and taking care of my own mental health. While building a holistic understanding of the world I live in, I pushed myself in ways I did not believe I could, and ended up building a better future for myself. Ethnic Studies is not only the breeding ground for pushing students to diversify their education, and to think critically for the world around them, but it is also the representation that first generation students and students of Color need to see.
So when you find yourself stuck on where you want to go, think about the people you want to be around, when deciding what school is going to be your new home.
For more information on the different types of institutions there are check out our blog Choosing a College: Based on Cultural Diversity