“…any historically black college or university [HBCU] that was established prior to 1964, whose principal mission was, and is, the education of black Americans, and that is accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency or association determined by the Secretary [of Education] to be a reliable authority as to the quality of training offered or is, according to such an agency or association, making reasonable progress toward accreditation.” – The Higher Education Act of 1965
As a current student at the illustrious Clark Atlanta University (CAU), I take pride in attending my historically black institution. Transferring from a community college to a HBCU was something I wasn’t prepared for. From the minute I stepped onto campus, I knew that coming to CAU was one of the best decisions I had made. But, I was a bit nervous. I wasn’t prepared for campus life. AT ALL! You hear the stories and watch tv shows of how much fun attending an HBCU is but there are certain things you don’t know until you’re actually there.
1. Networking is your best friend
Networking is probably one of the most important things to know and do. It’s a life saver. You never know what the person next to you in class might be once starting their career. They can potentially be your future employer or somehow beneficial to you in some way. Creating professional relationships with not only your peers but professors can seem nerve racking but trust me it’s always worth it in the end.
2. Homecoming is a big deal
While other schools have a regular homecoming weekend, we dedicate the entire week to Homecoming. Filled with different events and activities. From step shows, fashion shows to a couple of celebrity appearances, it’s a week you don’t want to miss.
3. Greek life is unmatched
The Greeks are held to a special calibre because of the history behind them. These organizations, also known as the Divine 9, were created in the early 1900s because students of color weren’t allowed to join any other organizations. They are a key component to the culture and the student life experience at a HBCU.
4. Swag Surfing becomes a second nature
Look, just get used to it. At every party, any sport event, dining hall, it is happening. When you hear it, grab your neighbor and get to surfing. It never gets old.
5. Respect the band
If you’ve watched Drumline, then you know where I’m going with this one. They are the reason why homecoming and halftime shows are so exciting and filled with school spirit. Joining the band is like having a second family. Respect ‘em, love ‘em.
6. Everyday is a fashion show
If you ever need any fashion advice or an extra boost in the “swag” department just take a look around campus.
7. Everywhere you turn, you see #BlackExcellence
One day, if you just stop and take a look around, you see so many young, educated, African American young people trying to make a difference. Soon to be doctors and lawyers. Entertainers to entrepreneurs. The possibilities are endless. It’s crazy to think that just a couple of years ago, it wasn’t even an idea for African Americans to further their education. Fast forward to today and we have special programs, scholarships and organizations dedicated to our #BlackExcellence.
8. The diversity
Believe it or not, HBCUs are very diverse. Contrary to popular belief they aren’t just for African Americans. There are students attending from all around the world. We don’t all share the same religion. Speak the same native language. Eat the same foods. We don’t share the same style. It’s amazing to see the different cultures come to together as one to achieve that one common goal. Those are some of the things that makes experiencing an HBCU all worth it.
9. We get to be as unapologetically black as EVER
Need I say more? We can be as carefree and black as ever. There are no silent judgements or things being thought about us because of the color of our skin. Attending an HBCU, will bring out the black boy joy and black girl magic in all of you.