Economy, Opportunity Play Role in Increasing Diversity at HBCUs
With economic hardship growing and racial intolerance decreasing, student enrollment at historically black colleges and universities are increasingly reflective of a changing environment in higher education. The experience of being a minority on a college campus, once exclusively reserved for students of color, is now an expanding scenario for white students seeking quality, affordable education options at HBCUs.
At Hampton University, competitive academic programs and institutional profile are making diversity one of the campus’ drawing points to potential high school students. From the Daily Press:
Vietnamese student Andrew “Audio” Nguyen, 20, said HU’s six-year pharmacy program is the reason he chose to attend the school. Nguyen said he grew up around blacks in Prince George’s County, Md., so he felt like he fit in and was oblivious to stereotypes other HU students may have had about him.
“Freshman year everybody was probably thinking ‘Who is this little Asian kid?’” he said. “For me, I feel like I really fit in because I grew up around African Americans, so it’s natural to me.”
After deciding he wasn’t into the pharmacy program, Nguyen switched to the university’s five-year MBA program. His parents wanted him to leave HU and enroll at the University of Maryland because as an in-state college it was less expensive than Hampton. But Nguyen said HU’s smaller size will help him more easily find a job after he graduates, and he enjoys the environment at the school.
Latino and Asian student enrollment at HBCUs has grown exponentially over the last ten years, and while the racial demographics on black college campuses tilt largely towards African-Americans, these institutions are beginning to model the ethnic make-up of American society. From the Diverse Issues Blog:
Yet, time and time again, HBCUs are looked upon as “segregated” environments that don’t represent the “real world”. If you have been studying the projected Census data, you know that HBCUs now represent the very real world of the future. By 2020, the percentage of people of color in our country will be 40 percent and by 2040 the percentage will increase to 50 percent. HBCUs are preparing students for a very realistic world.
HBCU diversity continues to center largely in advanced degree programs, specifically in S.T.E.M. disciplines which historically have attracted greater numbers among White and other ethnic groups. But with increasing efforts in recruiting and campus programming, the numbers will continue to grow – and benefit – HBCU culture at large.