Are Historically Black Colleges Good for Black Students?

My good friend Roland Fryer has taken as his life’s mission to understand every aspect of the economic life of Blacks in America.

His latest research, co-authored with another good friend, Michael Greenstone, tackles the issues of (a) who attends historically Black colleges, and (b) does it help them or hurt them if they do.

Here are their key conclusions:

1) In the 1970s going to a historically Black institution was associated with higher wages and higher graduation rates than going to a traditionally White institution.

2) By the 1990s, however, the return to graduating from a historically Black institution fell by 20% relative to a traditionally White school, so that in the 1990s there was a premium associated with going to the traditionally White school.

3) The answer to that reversal does not appear to be due to a change in the mix of students attending the two types of schools, or to differences in expenditure per student.

4) Rather, it appears that the traditionally White institutions have evolved to better serve the needs of Black students.

Sounds pretty sensible to me.

Luke Hughes

OK, objectively speaking...let's talk "real world."

As a high-level hiring official in a large private sector firm, I can attest to the fact that graduates--both black and white--of HBCUs do just as well in terms of wages earned, performance in assigned tasks, promotions, and upward mobility, as graduates--both black and white--of non-HBCUs. As a matter of fact, it has been my experience that, in general, graduates of HBCUs bring more solidly-developed leadership and "people" skills than black students who matriculated at predominately white institutions, perhaps owing to the fact that the former (HBCU-educated students) were members of the dominant student population and took full advantage of the numerous opportunities to develop the above-mentioned skills. Generally speaking, the HBCU-educated employees are more solidly grounded in relevant life experiences and in the exercise of "common sense" as these relate to job-specific performance. In other words, black employees with the HBCU educational experience generally outperform their black and white counterparts who maticulated at predominately white institutions in these areas as well...regardless of which predominanly-white institution they attended.

One-dimentional employees--those who do not possess sufficient cultural knowledge and awareness or who have difficulty transferring their "book learning" to "in your face," real life situations"--do not do well in my firm and usually wash out by year two.

In my business, it's much more about one's ability to adapt and perform assigned tasks than about where one attended college and how much it cost. While a degree from a so-called "high-powered" college/university may get an applicant an interview, a job offer, and even a job. ultimately it all comes down to real ability and on-the-job performance in the real world.

In response to the topic at hand-- "Are Historically Black Colleges Good for Black Students?-- you betcha! A resounding YES! As stated above, as an employer I have found that graduates who hail from HBCUs--namely top U.S. universities such as Hampton, Howard, Spelman, Fisk, Morehouse, Tuskegee,Winston-Salem State University, etc.--bring something special to the table that black graduates (and a suprisingly fair number of white graduates) of predominantly-white universities seemingly lack and/or have a longer learning curve in grasping and acquiring.


T Parrish

Are PWIs good for black students AND the black COMMUNITY?