As the school year proceeds, juniors and seniors are beginning to finish their graduate school search and are beginning applications. While choosing between areas of study, masters vs. Ph.Ds., and ensuring all prerequisites are complete are things all students should be taking into consideration when looking at graduate school, Black students have a few other things they should consider before choosing their school of choice.
Firstly, Black students have the unique opportunity to pick between a predominantly white institution (PWI) or a historically black college/university (HBCU). What are the differences between a PWI and an HBCU? HBCUs are institutions that were established before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to support the African American Community during the Jim Crow Era. Most HBCUs were founded in the South or Mid-Atlantic with only two in the Northeast. Some examples of HBCU’s are Howard University, Hampton University, North Carolina Central University and Virginia State University. On the other hand, PWIs are colleges and institutions whose populations are predominantly made up of white students. Some colleges that are considered PWIs are UConn, Harvard, St. John’s, Virginia Tech, and many more. Most schools in the U.S. are PWIs. While HBCUs are not exclusive to only students who identify as black, many black students choose HBCUs to be surrounded by people who look like and had a similar experience as them. Both PWIs and HBCUs have resources to assist their students in their academic, career, and financial needs. It comes down to where does the student feel the most comfortable and which school has their area of study.
Secondly, Black students have access to scholarships and other funding opportunities not only through outside resources, but through certain schools as well. For outside funding, the black affinity community page has multiple graduate school scholarships aimed at different affinity communities including black students, Women, LGBTQ+, and other communities as well. As humans are just one race or gender or sexual orientation, many of these opportunities can be applied to by those who identify by more than one group. Within the Graduate Schools themselves, some schools offer paid work that supplements funding while offering experience at the same time. UConn, for example, has the graduate assistantship program that funds the graduate assistant or teaching assistants funding while they are a full-time student.
These are all things that need to be considered when applying for graduate school. If you or someone you know is looking to begin applying to schools, schedule an appointment with a career coach to hear about options and get personal statement/resume critiques.