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Kinsa

If you are "white", would you consider sending your child to a "historically black" college? (More details inside)

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My 16yo son is very interested in a specific career field. In the US, there are only a small handful of colleges that offer this program. We eliminated most of them because of location. (I really want a family member or a close friend to be in the college's vicinity.)

 

One of the top contenders is four blocks from my mother's house, plus two of my sisters and their families live only a few miles away. The location is great for us. However, this is a historically black college with a current student body of 90% black. We are as white as white can be.

 

We talked to our son about that, and he's okay with looking further into the school. What do you think? Would we be welcomed at a school like that? What are the downsides? I'm really not even sure what I'm asking, except, should we consider it further? What do you think?

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I went to an undergrad school on a scholarship to increase diversity as a white, middle class, East Coast female. At a school that was mostly Native American and Hispanic, in the SW USA. And I say I'd go for it, because it's a wonderful experience to see the world through a different set of eyes, especially when it comes to history and literature classes.

 

I will also say that it can sometimes be a disconcerting one, where you are in a class discussion and you realize that you are being asked to explain the decisions and views of your race hundreds of years back. It definitely is eye opening as to privilege, even among fellow students who have similar SES backgrounds.

 

I do think this was an amazingly valuable experience since I ended up spending about the first 15 years of my professional life in situations where I was never in the majority (and quite often, was a minority of 1). I've also been told that I was hired in some cases because I didn't "Act White" and they felt I could fit in, whatever that means.

 

DD's cheer program does their competitions and summer camps at HSBUs, and I've been impressed by just how welcoming and friendly the schools are to our girls. It's a big difference from what I see when students groups are on my state U campus, and most of the campus seems to treat these younger kids as being about as welcome as a horde of locusts until they get to the age where they're deemed "prospective students". At the HSBUs, our kids are welcomed, loved, and supported. There's nothing quite like seeing the look on a bunch of u7 girls' faces when they have girls from the college dance team and cheer team and sororities come over to help them do their hair and makeup, wish them luck, and give them big hugs.

 

 

 

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My 16yo son is very interested in a specific career field. In the US, there are only a small handful of colleges that offer this program. We eliminated most of them because of location. (I really want a family member or a close friend to be in the college's vicinity.)

 

One of the top contenders is four blocks from my mother's house, plus two of my sisters and their families live only a few miles away. The location is great for us. However, this is a historically black college with a current student body of 90% black. We are as white as white can be.

 

We talked to our son about that, and he's okay with looking further into the school. What do you think? Would we be welcomed at a school like that? What are the downsides? I'm really not even sure what I'm asking, except, should we consider it further? What do you think?

 

What do your family members who live near this school think?  Are they friends with anyone involved in the school?  Do they feel like it has a welcoming environment?  Seems like they would have good input--if, as community members, they are welcomed and welcoming with the student and faculty, then your son probably would be.

 

I would say it's worth checking into for sure--

 

B--

 

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If his interest in going to that school is academic, then I'd say go for it.

 

I've been in living situations where I'm the only (or minotiry) white. They've all been very good experiences.

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I would certainly look into the college, make a visit, walk around campus, talk to the admissions folks, sit in on a few classes, etc.  I had a white friend get a graduate degree at a historically black college, and her experience was fine.

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My nephew is white and attends a historically black college. From what I gather it's been a mostly good experience for him.

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I would be fine with sending my child to a college where he/she was a minority. Cal State LA is 60% Latino/a, 16% Asian, and only 8% white and we're considering their Early Entrance Program for my oldest.

 

But I think there is a cultural difference between a college where most of the students today are non-white and one that had its roots in segregated education. To me, it would be like sending my Catholic child to a public elementary school in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood and sending him/her to a private Jewish elementary school. In both cases, my child would be a minority, but he/she would feel more of an "outsider" at the latter.

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I would not cross it off my list due to race.

 

At our (high) school, African American students are about 2% of the population - Hispanic students are about 12%.  They are welcome and included in all aspects.  I can't see why flipping the labels would make a difference whether high school or college.

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Like any college, he should visit to see if it's a good fit.  Ideally he should have a tour, sit in on classes, talk with a professor in his major, and do an overnight.  Let him decide. 

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What do your family members who live near this school think?  Are they friends with anyone involved in the school?  Do they feel like it has a welcoming environment?  Seems like they would have good input--if, as community members, they are welcomed and welcoming with the student and faculty, then your son probably would be.

 

I would say it's worth checking into for sure--

 

B--

 

 

My computer isn't allowing me to multi-quote...

 

My mother and sisters are transplants to the area and not from there.  They have nothing to do with the college itself, nor do they know anyone who has anything to do with it.  The community where my mom lives is mostly a black community, but my sisters live further away in more of a mixed community. That said, my mother's community has a good relationship with the school.  But she and my sisters really don't know much about it other than its historical roots.

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I would be fine with sending my child to a college where he/she was a minority. Cal State LA is 60% Latino/a, 16% Asian, and only 8% white and we're considering their Early Entrance Program for my oldest.

 

But I think there is a cultural difference between a college where most of the students today are non-white and one that had its roots in segregated education. To me, it would be like sending my Catholic child to a public elementary school in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood and sending him/her to a private Jewish elementary school. In both cases, my child would be a minority, but he/she would feel more of an "outsider" at the latter.

 

Crimson, that is a good point.  This isn't a school that just happens to have a black majority or that happens to be located in a predominately black area.  This is a school that was founded in the mid-1800's for runaway slaves.  It really has a deep black historical context, which I can appreciate.  I think those are two different entities, so that's why I'm wondering if it is... I dunno, a "faux pas"???... to even give it consideration, kwim?  The history of the college and its attendees are not my son's history, kwim?  On the other hand, does that even matter?

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Like any college, he should visit to see if it's a good fit.  Ideally he should have a tour, sit in on classes, talk with a professor in his major, and do an overnight.  Let him decide. 

 

I think the next time we are visiting my family we will try to do a campus tour.  The problem is that my mother and sisters live 1000+ miles away from me, so it's not something we do very often.  As a matter of fact, we only visit once every few years.

 

Anyway, perhaps, if this becomes a real serious possibility, we can put ds on a plane and have my mother attend the campus visit with him.  Hmmm....

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Crimson, that is a good point.  This isn't a school that just happens to have a black majority or that happens to be located in a predominately black area.  This is a school that was founded in the mid-1800's for runaway slaves.  It really has a deep black historical context, which I can appreciate.  I think those are two different entities, so that's why I'm wondering if it is... I dunno, a "faux pas"???... to even give it consideration, kwim?  The history of the college and its attendees are not my son's history, kwim?  On the other hand, does that even matter?

 

I would come right out and inquire about that of the admissions personnel.  I think it is respectful to ask directly and in a spirit of trying to understand, and I expect you will receive a genuine answer.

 

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I, personally, would not.

 

I grew up in downtown Los Angeles. I was the only kid in my grade with blond hair or blue eyes. I stuck out. It was terribly lonely. The feelings of there being no one like me were profound. I could not choose to put one of my kids in a positition that made me so unhappy.

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I have been known to recommend the historically black NC A&T University to all sorts of students. It has some outstanding faculty and programs so why not?  That said, I do think that students should visit and get a feel for any school they are considering. 

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I have been known to recommend the historically black NC A&T University to all sorts of students. It has some outstanding faculty and programs so why not?

That's where my nephew goes.

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Like others above, I was going to say that my son IS a minority at a state school here in CA -- i.e., he's often the only non-full-Asian in his technical classes and extracurriculars (math, programming). He says it is sometimes uncomfortable. However, I know this is a slightly different situation from what you're talking about.

 

My cousin's son (half-black) attended a historically black college in the deep South. My cousin (100% Anglo) would often be the only white parent at events. My cousin's son did not feel welcome and transferred after two years. However, it *might* have been better (we don't know) if he'd been full white ... People of mixed race are sometimes given a hard time on both sides ...

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It really depends on the school. Some are welcoming and its a non issue, and others it becomes really inflammatory and isolating. I'd definitely suggest visiting and talking with admissions to get a better feel for which one this might be.

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I went to a HBCU. I lived on campus and participated in many student activities as a white person. It was a great experience and most people were very welcoming and I made lots of friends. I was well liked by many. If your child is very reserved and shy, I expect there will be adjustments, but if they make friends with all races with ease, your child will easily adjust to the culture of the historically black college. Even the most reserved will find their place as there are lots of serious students on every campus including HBCUs. Most of the students come from very diverse backgrounds and educated families.

 

You aren't talking about people who have never been around white people and are looking not to be near white people. In fact, many were happy to see diversity as they often came from mostly white schools. I would still strongly research the program you are interested in and the professors that are there. Research the opportunities and I would strongly look into the honors program. Just like any college, you will find that some degree programs are just not at the same level as other universities. My HBCU had a good pharmacy program and other science programs but if you were lookinng for a liberal arts degree, I would say go elsewhere.

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In addition to the above, I would suggest during your ds's visit he should talk with other students there to get their take on it.  They have nothing to gain if he attends and may be more open.  (Kind of like the college tour guide that told us specific places to avoid walking alone at night, while the "official" word was that there was virtually no crime on campus.)  

 

 

 

 

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Not quite the same thing, but I went to a historically black highschool (if that is even a term). I only went one year, because I hated the IB program that was there, but otherwise the school was a great experience. I was one of two white people on the Flag Corps, and one of maybe 5 or so in the greater marching band group. Being the minority for a change was a fantastic experience, and I think it made an impact on me, even though I'd grown up going to fairly diverse schools all along. If I hadn't hated the IB program I would have stayed. 

 

But do be sure you are OK with interracial dating/marriage. Love interests are often found at school. I know when I had a crush (unrequited, I'm sad to say) on a fellow student my parents were a bit "concerned" which really upset me. What did they think was going to happen? 

 

Otherwise, I say, why not go?

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I won't, but not because of the college experience or being in the minority.  It would be because of finding a job afterward.  It can be so hard sometimes, and there is racism.  People usually look for reasons to narrow down the resumes.  Even reverse racism wouldn't benefit my child.  It would be like when DH was offered a full-ride scholarship to Harvard.  He was the valedictorian jock at an inner school, he had an odd name and he didn't fill in the race question.  But, when they flew him in and saw his very white skin, that evaporated.   

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The first thing I would look at would be median SAT scores and where that would put my kid. If my kid were above the median by a significant amount is there an honors college or othe community to help students find peers. If my kid were below the median, is there a strong academic assistance network that he could tap into.

Then I would look at the school's graduation rate. A couple of the HBCU have been criticizes in recent years for having very low graduation rates (as in rates that were under 10% when the national average is more like 50%).

 

In other words I would first consider some of the same questions I'd consider with other schools.

 

BTW there are a some ROTC scholarships specifically for use at HBCU and other traditionally minority serving schools. There is no racial or ethnic requirement for the recipient. If the school under consideration is promising that might be something to pursue.

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One of the trickiest things with students is choosing colleges based on a less common career interest. Some students don't change their mind about careers but the majority do end up changing their minds. Many will say they are 100% sure absolutely this is the major... and two months later they've changed their mind. So, my thought is to absolutely look at options that offer the major of interest but be sure they like the school overall and will be happy with the range of choices available.

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It would depend on my kid.  For my older two, it would not have been a good fit.  They both struggled socially with kids of similar cultural backgrounds.  I think it would be way too much of a "fish out of water" experience for them and they would have been unhappy.  For dd, anything goes, I guess.  She has an ability to make friends wherever she goes.  If she were to feel that it was a welcoming enough place, then I could see her including that school in her applications. 

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The first thing I would look at would be median SAT scores and where that would put my kid. If my kid were above the median by a significant amount is there an honors college or othe community to help students find peers. If my kid were below the median, is there a strong academic assistance network that he could tap into.

Then I would look at the school's graduation rate. A couple of the HBCU have been criticizes in recent years for having very low graduation rates (as in rates that were under 10% when the national average is more like 50%).

 

In other words I would first consider some of the same questions I'd consider with other schools.

 

BTW there are a some ROTC scholarships specifically for use at HBCU and other traditionally minority serving schools. There is no racial or ethnic requirement for the recipient. If the school under consideration is promising that might be something to pursue.

 

This would be my concern.  Before kids, I managed a government grant program that included several HBCU programs, and I was a little shocked at the details when I asked.  At that time (late 1990's), the graduation rates were indeed pretty grim, even below the community colleges where I work now (which are around 20-25%).  I'm not worried about the community college closest to us because they have a solid honors program and transfer agreements, but if the graduation rate is low and there aren't opportunities to "rise,"  I'd be nervous.  

 

For an obscure major, you also need to make sure that the program is regarded well and has enough majors to fly.  I went to a school in a major that was fairly small (less than a dozen graduates a year at the time), but the employment and graduate school statistics were outstanding. 

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It would also be worth looking for a course plan for the intended major, then looking to see if all of the required courses seem to be offered. Right now you can probably see both the fall and spring offerings.

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I think it really depends on the school and the reason for attending. My husband attended Texas Southern university for a few semesters back in the late 1980's. Barbara Jordan used to teach there. I don't remember the amount, but he got a good bit of scholarship money just for being a minority at that school. I know many teachers in NW Houston area who got their masters degrees at Praire View A&M.

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Like any college, he should visit to see if it's a good fit.  Ideally he should have a tour, sit in on classes, talk with a professor in his major, and do an overnight.  Let him decide. 

 

When I was college age, if someone in my home state wanted to go to pharmacy school, there were only two in-state choices, on opposite ends of the state. The one in the more attractive city is a famous, historic black college. It is a wonderful school, and it was not uncommon for non-black, serious students to apply and attend. A visit of the campus would help your student get a feel for the place.

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Just to update, we did contact the school to request an information packet. Not sure how far we will pursue this, but we did take the first step.

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My niece attended one on an academic scholarship that she was awarded, in part, to attending as a minority student.  Freshman year was definitely an adjustment because of the normal clash of dorm personalities, but she did settle in and found a solid group of friends.  She worked at a local restaurant part time, and was not enamored of the neighborhood the school was in.  Not a lot of cultural/artistic opportunities, which she has a passion for.   

 

The academics were like anywhere else:  the good, the bad, the iffy.  She changed her major 3/4 of the way through but still managed to graduate on time with honors.  And, like many of us, does not use her degree at all for her current job.   :glare:

 

 

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Well, here's another little update:

 

We waited and waited for the info pack to arrive; and when it finally did, it arrived three times! DH was not impressed by the lack of efficiency, so he's urging ds to discount the school. Plus, in the brochures there was not a single picture of a token white student, even placed among black students. It was pretty clear that this is a black school, for black students.

 

So while it's unfortunate for us because my side of the family lives so incredibly close to the school, I think he is going to pass on applying. Bummer.

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You will find out more from visiting than from tallying ethnic distribution in brochures. We went to one school, not historically black, where ds' s skin color was represented in the brochure...found out they were looking for other colors and his skin type would have to have coursework on a level not offered at his high school plus a 4 .0 to even get loked at. We are more interested in academic fit than skin color fit, so we crossed that off our list.i suspect they were looking for a mix of very wealthy International plus first gen children of doctors etc. And using diversity as a way to draw them in, as they certainly were not offering scholarships.

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You will find out more from visiting than from tallying ethnic distribution in brochures. We went to one school, not historically black, where ds' s skin color was represented in the brochure...found out they were looking for other colors and his skin type would have to have coursework on a level not offered at his high school plus a 4 .0 to even get loked at. 

 

I'm agreeing with HH here.  For all we know the brochures could be more aspirational than actual.  Maybe they actually have too many white applicants, and they are using the brochure to reassure black applicants?

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More than the what is depicted in the brochure, we are leery because of the fact that it took a really long time to receive information, and when it did come, it came three different times, the exact same brochure and letter. That makes us think the school isn't particularly organized in its admissions office.

 

We are honing in on two schools in state, so it's okay to let this one go.

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Well, here's another little update:

 

We waited and waited for the info pack to arrive; and when it finally did, it arrived three times! DH was not impressed by the lack of efficiency, so he's urging ds to discount the school. Plus, in the brochures there was not a single picture of a token white student, even placed among black students. It was pretty clear that this is a black school, for black students.

 

So while it's unfortunate for us because my side of the family lives so incredibly close to the school, I think he is going to pass on applying. Bummer.

I really think that visiting would be wise.

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I really think that visiting would be wise.

It's 1000+ miles away, so not particularly convenient. If we happen to go up north to visit my mother, we will stop in. Otherwise, it probably isn't going to happen.

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