“I’m Just Saying..”:: 5 Ways PWI’s and HBCU’s Are Different

imjustsayingWhen I announced my decision to attend graduate school at a historically black university on last summer I received very mixed reviews ranging from “oh you will love it” to “why would you even go through that unnecessary stress.” It’s safe to say that I had mixed emotions as the first day of class arrived. And after these past 8 months, I must say there are very BIG differences between my undergraduate experiences at a Predominately White Institution (PWI) and my current graduate experience at a Historically Black College/University (HBCU). At first, I thought I would be biased because I love my Alma Mater, I really do, but surprisingly there are definitely things I do and DO NOT miss while attending a PWI and vice versa.

Elissa Hallaren

  • Experiences of racism is far and in between

I have not experienced ANY issues of racism by faculty, staff and students within my first semester of graduate school at an HBCU than my first semester at the PWI my undergraduate year. Mind you, my freshman year of college was the year President Barack Obama was elected president for his first term. So the slurs were definitely alive and well.

  • I don’t feel like a minority

There were plenty of times where I was the only person of color in a college class and I felt awkward, out of place, and alienated by the professor and the students. The populations at HBCUs are very much diverse however. African American or students of African decent are the majority at most HBCUs and it obvious. Experiencing diversity but being treated equally is an outstanding experience. It’s very encouraging to see so many goal driven black faces. To me, it makes a less hostile learning experience.

  • Organization is not an HBCU’s forte

I’ve only attended one PWI and one HBCU so I cannot speak for the majority but from my experiences HBCUs truly lack organization skills and professionalism. As someone who has attended a more organized university in the past, to transition to a less organized university almost drove me insane. But what’s really shocking me is the other students who attended an HBCU for their undergraduate career see nothing wrong with the administration’s organizational skills. Forms are often lost, phones are rarely answered and instructions are rarely comprehensible. However, their lack of organization has caused me to become more organized, more involved and more vocal about my career and educational planning. I MAKE COPIES AND NOTES OF EVERYTHING AND I ASK A LOT OF QUESTIONS.


  • Prejudice for attending a PWI is real

Other students who have attended a HBCU before may tease you for attending a PWI but don’t take it personal. That just mean I can make under any circumstance lol. I haven’t had any issues of prejudice from faculty or staff though and that’s what really matters.

  • Pay attention to your Financial Aid

You should pay attention to your financial aid no matter what college you attend but if you attend or plan to attend an HBCU, DO NOT PLAY WITH THEM FOLKS.

If you thought, I would merely tell you which school is better than you have come to the wrong place. The college you choose has to best fit you.

“I’m Just Saying..”

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