All Articles Tagged "higher education"
Type HBCUs in a Google search box and the search engine quickly suggests items asking if the institutions are “still relevant,” “racist,” or “good.” The assertion that colleges and universities created to combat racism and educate Blacks when other institutions denied them entry are now racist is more than a little ridiculous. The judgment of whether they are good or not depends on what you value. These institutions don’t have the same amount of resources as behemoth state universities or Ivy League institutions, but they still manage to produce the likes of Spike Lee and Oprah Winfrey.
Are they relevant? HBCUs represent three percent of colleges in the United States and are responsible for 21.5 percent of the bachelor’s degrees awarded to Black professionals. This small slice of the higher education pie churns out 60 percent of all engineering degrees earned by Black students, educates half of the country’s Black teachers, and produces 40 percent of all Black health professionals.
HBCUs are certainly something special. I asked graduates of these historic institutions to help me identify exactly what that certain something is. Here’s what they had to say.
Colleges and universities are standalone institutions. When you graduate, your diploma says you went to one particular school. But colleges also tend to fall into categories that group them into a special place in higher education. For example, the party schools. The liberal arts schools. The Ivy League. The colleges with great sports programs.
And the HBCUs.
Last week, we tweeted this NPR interview between John Silvanus Wilson, the new president of Morehouse, and “Tell Me More” host Michel Martin. The interview covered a wide range of topics — from the financial struggles that HBCUs face to the low level of alumni giving to the need for operational improvement at black colleges where the financial aid office gets the most criticism from alums.
But the big question is this: Do we still need HBCUs?
A former executive director for an Obama initiative on historically black colleges and universities, Wilson said this about the continued need for these institutions: “They continue to serve a special function. We have a better time graduating students. It is a more nurturing environment, in some cases.”
But, he said, “It is because, as many people are recognizing across higher education, black and white, the value proposition and the financial model, particularly for liberal arts institutions – they are under a lot of stress.”
HBCUs at one point provided an opportunity for African Americans to go to college when other schools wouldn’t allow it. Now that the options are broad, students still choose the HBCUs for the unique experience they offer.
But, according to Wilson, HBCUs haven’t done, what women’s colleges have done. Women’s colleges, at one point,offered opportunity to a group that wouldn’t otherwise have had a chance at a college education. But today women’s colleges are thriving where HBCUs struggle.
“So you see Wellesley and Smith and Mount Holyoke doing major capital campaigns, just like … the more sophisticated institutions in higher education,” said Wilson. “You have to remain sophisticated, and you have to remain up-to-date with the current definition of institutional strength in higher education. That has not happened to the same degree with HBCUs, and I would say that with the all-male institutions we lag in that respect as well.”
According to one reader, Tiarra Currie, who talked with us on Twitter about this topic, she chose Syracuse and Columbia’s Teacher’s College, in part, because what she heard from HBCU alumni convinced her it wasn’t the right environment for her.
“When I hear tales from HBCU students, the most common commentary is unorganized, lack of financial aid, and homecoming,” she told us in an email.
As a women’s college grad, my personal experience was one that was, to use Wilson’s word, current. The roles and needs of women have evolved, both individually and in society. Women’s colleges, in my experience, have tried and — in many ways — succeeded in keeping up with that.
If you went to an HBCU, I’d be curious to hear if you think black colleges have done a good job of keeping up with their evolving student body.
But by no means, does that imply that women’s colleges, or any college, for that matter, has it figured out completely. The New York Times reported just a few days ago that colleges and higher education associations are making it a “priority” to better meet the needs of a student population that’s a little older and more interested in part-time coursework, online classes, and other untraditional options. By taking these steps, they hope that graduation rates will rise.
Moreover, the job market is making a college education seem extraneous. New Labor Department research shows that nearly half — 48 percent — of people with a four-year degree are doing a job that doesn’t require one. However, The Christian Science Monitor points out that people who have a college degree make more money.
“At the same time, the story of economic progress is one of continuous development of new tools and the skills to use them – and good jobs will flow to nations that can keep pushing further down this path,” writes the article.
So the issue isn’t whether we need higher education. It’s whether that education is meeting modern needs. Which has less to do with HBCUs or women’s colleges or party schools. It’s a transformation that all schools of every stripe have to make to meet the challenges of the modern world.
Higher education used to mean going to college and getting a Bachelor’s Degree. But now more than ever black students are earning graduate degrees and beyond. Some more than others. The Council of Graduate Schools reported that during the 2010-2011 academic year, 176,836 of graduate students were African-American with more than 70 percent being black women. Women get it. And for good reasons. Here’s 10 of the best:
Career advancement used to come with hard work and determination. And although both play a role in promotion, an advanced degree is now required for many higher level, management level positions. In fact, many companies not only encourage their employees to go back to school, some even pay a portion if not all of the tuition costs.
(AJC) — After years of expansion, college leaders took the University System of Georgia down a different path Wednesday by discussing campus consolidations and other steps to save money. Chancellor Hank Huckaby said the system will review whether college mergers would be cost-effective and develop criteria to determine potential candidates among the 35 campuses. It’s too soon to say how many campuses would be impacted or how much money it would save, but this represents a shift in priorities for a system that opened a new school — Georgia Gwinnett College — in 2006. Huckaby also announced a systemwide study of how colleges use existing buildings to determine if, and where, new construction may be needed. He also called for the system office to collaborate more with colleges and architects on construction proposals and designs. Both steps address concerns about growing construction costs, he said.
(New York Times) — Each incoming freshman at Randolph-Macon College this year was eligible to take part in a brief signing ceremony. The new student, along with a parent and the college president, could sign a special agreement that is emerging at some colleges and universities: As long as the student keeps up with academic work and meets regularly with advisers, the college guarantees that earning a degree there will take no more than four years. If it fails to hold up its end of the bargain — if required classes are not available, or if advisers give poor counsel — the college promises to cover the cost of additional tuition until the degree is completed. Four-year degree guarantees, as they have become known, are being offered at a growing number of smaller private colleges. They work as a marketing tool, giving colleges a way to ease parents’ fears that their children might enjoy college enough to stick around for five or six costly years. And they help to focus attention on the task at hand: graduating in four years.
(Inside Higher Education) — SAT scores are down this year. And while the College Board played down that news and attributed the falling scores to growth in the test-taking population, the downward shift runs counter to recent patterns. The data also show continuation of a trend that has concerned many educators for years: growing gaps by race and ethnicity in how students perform on average on the test. The trend in recent years has been a point up in one part of the SAT, offset by a point down in another part — with minimal movement in total. But this year saw a three-point decline in critical reading, a one-point decline in mathematics, and a two-point decline in writing.
(Wall Street Journal) — The government of Rwanda will create a new graduate engineering program in conjunction with a major U.S. university, a step toward building itself into an African technology hub 17 years after a genocidal conflict claimed nearly a million lives. Rwandan President Paul Kagame and Jared L. Cohon, president of Pittsburgh-based Carnegie Mellon University, will sign the agreement Friday in Pittsburgh to establish and operate the program from Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, where a new campus is to be built. The African Development Fund is supporting the project with $13 million in funding, according to the fund’s parent, the African Development Bank.
(AJC) — As college students return to campus in Georgia, a new state policy has closed the doors of the five most competitive state schools to illegal immigrants, but a group of professors has found a way to offer those students a taste of what they’ve been denied. The five University of Georgia professors have started a program they’re calling Freedom University. They’re offering to teach a rigorous seminar course once a week meant to mirror courses taught at the most competitive schools and aimed at students who have graduated from high school but can’t go to one of those top schools because of the new policy or because of cuts to state scholarship programs.”This is not a substitute for letting these students into UGA, Georgia State or the other schools,” said Pam Voekel, a history professor at UGA and one of the program’s initiators. “It is designed for people who, right now, don’t have another option.”
(Washington Post) — Hispanics surpassed blacks in 2010 to become the second-largest racial or ethnic group of young adults in America’s colleges, according to a new analysis of Census Bureau data. The number of Hispanic college students ages 18 to 24 rose by a remarkable 24 percent in one year, to 1.8 million, according to a report released Thursday by the Pew Hispanic Center. The federal Current Population Survey found 7.7 million white college students in that age group, 1.7 million black students and 800,000 Asian Americans. Black students still outnumber Hispanics in the overall college population, which includes older adults.
(Black Enterprise) — With the economy still in a slump, many adults—recent graduates to retirees—are continuing their education, going back to school to make themselves more marketable or simply to enhance their current skill set. But juggling school with work and family, on top of financing your education, can be daunting. However, BlackEnterprise.com has got you covered with these four easy-to-follow tips to get you started as you return to school.