12 Tips to Rock Fall 2012 at Your HBCU
As the United States moves to President Barack Obama’s administrative goal of America leading the world in college graduates, many developing minds will consider, return to, transfer to and matriculate through HBCUs.
If you or someone you know is beginning the life-changing HBCU experience, that person needs love, support and encouragement—much like college newbies and students at various schools throughout the nation and across the globe.
However, HBCUs serve historical and diverse missions for communities of color. Black schools send large numbers of black alumni to graduate and professional school. Others become notable entrepreneurs, media moguls and history-makers.
But, before graduating from an HBCU one must first meet the requirements, and with hope, experience the invaluable nuances of a historically black institution. Some tips for a successful fall 2012 at your HBCU follow:
1) Be unapologetically motivated. Archaic stereotypes equating achievement with (solely) whiteness are not welcomed, supported or evidenced at these historical institutions. Diverse student bodies thrive at HBCUs. But more than racial or ethnic associations, we owe ourselves personal excellence. Each day deserves our highest performing self.
2) Don’t run from good drama. Some of the most controversial professors, alumni, and public figures contribute to society and academia in provocative and cutting edge ways. If a course piques your interest and is offered by a professor who possesses a counterculture academic approach, consider taking it. You might be exposed to life-changing knowledge that isn’t readily accessible. If a so-called extremist public figure speaks for convocation, consider seeing him/her. Attendance in and of itself is not ideological agreement, but it is an opportunity for mental expansion.
3) Risk it for the biscuit. One of my siblings says this all the time, and while it could seem like an invitation to chaos, it is a reminder for courage. Try. Employing monotony and expecting transformation is insane.
4) Know when to love ‘em and when to leave ‘em. For many HBCU students this will be their first (and, sadly, only) exposure to masses of black academics and aspiring intellectuals. With that said, the diversity of the Diaspora does include that which is classifiable as hot mess. Some people must be left on the hill, yard or in the café as others go actualize their dreams. As Zora Neale Hurston said, “All my skinfolk ain’t my kinfolk.”
5) Stay hydrated. Literally and figuratively. Many HBCUs are in rural areas with seemingly Saharan heat. Dehydration and heat strokes happen yearly. Drink plenty of water. If you or anyone you know (is of age and) sips the occasional alcoholic beverage, remember to hydrate with plenty of water. As for figurative thirstiness, despite what statistics convey about male-to-female ratios, like attracts like. If it’s meant to be romantically it will be.
6) Juggle like you’re in the UniverSoul Circus. Now is the time to balance multiple affiliations and associations. Through organizational involvement we learn about bureaucracy, human interaction and our personal boundaries.
7) Your health comes first. Wrap it up. Exercise. Manage stress levels and seek help for mental/psychological imbalances. De-stigmatize awareness.
8) The customer is first. While students might not always be right, they are the reason that academic institutions exist. Ensure that you are mentally challenged, socially engaged, properly informed and maximizing your investment of attending college. Learn the chain of command in case faculty and staff are not student-centric.
9) Support and be supported. Oftentimes the same people whose shoulders you’ll need will remember when you offered yours. HBCUs are all about the African tradition of communalism and connection. Be an asset to your village.
10) People change. Some will be brand newer than new after they earn line jackets, accolades or the affections of someone highly sought after. We aren’t responsible for other people’s reactions to changes in their lives. We choose how to respond in our lives. If perceived paupers turned princes or princesses ruffle your feathers, commit to not become that person, while respecting others’ right to be their selves and change.
11) You carry your brand. The HBCU network often helps when least expected. And most people have no issue with reaping the benefits of positive associations with their school. However, if you’re slandering, libeling and bastardizing the legacy of your institution, you’re not only compromising your brand, but also that of those before, beside and behind you.
12) Make the experience what you want it to be. Homecomings. Classics. Greek shows. Faculty talent shows. Before you know it, a stole sits in your closet and Facebook pictures seem prehistoric because time does fly. So, revel in the richness of your institution and when you graduate, spread the good news.
Digest Columnist Imani Jackson is a FAMU College of Law student. A Grambling State University journalism graduate, she was editor-in-chief of The Gramblinite newspaper and a radio talk show host for KGRM 91.5. Her writing has been published in Politic365, Black College Wire, Clutch Magazine, and The Daily American in Somerset, Pa.