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Staff Writers
Updated March 24, 2021

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Unique Characteristics of HBCUs

  • Accepts Low-Income, First-Generation College Students
  • Confer 22 Percent of All Bachelor Degrees to African Americans
  • Long-Standing History of Community and Public Service
  • High Number of Graduates Move Into Professional Fields
  • Black History and Culture is Part of the Main Curriculum

It's difficult to pick just five characteristics of historically black colleges; these institutions have a long history of being great places for young people to study. But for students interested in an HBCU for their college education, it is important to take these things into consideration. Here are five of some of the best characteristics students will find at these schools.

Accept Low-Income, First-Generation College Students

HBCUs have, on average, about one-eighth of the endowments of other private universities in the country; however, they accept more low-income and first-generation college students than any other kind of institution in the country. These institutions accomplish this by encouraging students to use Pell Grants and PLUS loans; the schools also host HBCU-specific scholarships to ensure that all students get a fair chance at an education.

Confer 22 Percent of All Bachelor Degrees to African Americans

One of the most interesting characteristics of HBCUs is that these institutions, all together, confer 22 percent of all bachelor degrees to African Americans. The most popular degrees at these schools tend to be professional programs, such as engineering, law, and medicine. With a degree from a prestigious HBCU, students go on to earn graduate degrees, becoming influential members of their community while remaining committed to their field.

Long-Standing History of Community and Public Service

These institutions are well known for their history of service to their community. They are also politically active, motivated by history and their present in order to spark debate and raise their voices for equality, integrity, and truth. HBCUs have a great tradition of standing up for the rights of African Americans and other minority groups and are known for their political work, both on campus and off. While not engaging in public debates, these institutions instill in their students the necessity of giving back to the community from which they originated; volunteer work is considered a mark of excellence at these schools.

High Number of Graduates Move Into Professional Fields

HBCUs have a long history of graduates who go on to professional fields and graduate education. From engineering to business, academics to law, it's no wonder why HBCUs are competitive. These graduates get a world-class degree and the encouragement they seek to move onto more advanced degrees for their profession. This shows in a big way: over 40 percent of African American members of Congress, 50 percent of African American lawyers, and 80 percent of African American judges are HBCU alumni.

Black History and Culture is Part of the Main Curriculum

Few universities around the country require African American history and culture as part of the main curriculum, but at HBCUs, it's never been a question. For many students, African American history is not taught in high school; knowing where you and your culture come from, and what your ancestors have had to endure, is part of finding your identity. The courses open up new issues for debate and students tend to learn more about America as a whole, good and bad, when they see the country through the prism of their own ancestors.

HBCUs have earned the distinction of being some of the best institutions in the country. This is because the staff and faculty of these schools care about their students and want them to succeed, both personally as well as professionally. Now that we've covered five characteristics of historically black colleges, it's your job to see if one of these schools is the best fit for your education. Continue here: The 50 Best Value Historically Black Graduate Schools in the U.S.

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