Working Learners are New Norm: What Does it Mean for HBCUs?

Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce last month released its report on the growing number of college students who work while enrolled, which has increased to 70 percent over the last 25 years. 

Other key findings include that college costs are now too much to be financed by employment, that women are more likely then men to work while enrolled, and that younger students seeks jobs in sales and office support while older and continuing students seek jobs in management. 

For HBCUs, where undergraduate numbers trend overwhelmingly female, and areas surrounding the campuses are economically underdeveloped, this report confirms an urgency to think in terms of economic growth. 

What unused land owned by HBCUs can be repurposed (not sold) for commercial use? Are there opportunities to engage grocery chains, mega-retailers like Walmart, Target and others to bring more jobs to historically black college towns?

But most importantly, are there opportunities to establish or support businesses created by HBCU alumni or other black entrepreneurs such that jobs, spending and growth are spurred by an initial investment from the anchor HBCU? Chances are, the HBCU is or could be the largest client any small black business could have for construction, media, commercial retail, printing, office supply purchase, etc. And while most HBCU campuses do invest in black business owners, are they creating partnerships for scholarship funding, hiring, and endowment investment as they work to grow these businesses?

Economics is all about managing an ecosystem of supply and demand, but it must start with students having opportunities to fund their education, to graduate and start businesses, and to count their alma maters as their first and biggest clients. 


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1 comment
  1. The main reason college students work while going to school is because college is to dam high. Combined with the cutbacks in grants and student loan, kids, especially minority students have to work more.

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