Gallup Study Tries To Compare HBCU & PWI Experiences


Oh, the beloved HBCU versus PWI experience debate. Never did I think a research company would go so far as to analytically compare the two, but alas, here we are. 

According to a new report released by Gallup, graduates from historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) have a "higher sense of well-being" compared to those black graduates who attended predominantly white institutions. (PWIs)

The data shows that out of the five points of well-being (purpose, social, financial, community, and physical) those students who attended HBCUs ranked higher (just by a few points) by their peers who attended PWIs.

But here's where I see a problem in these data findings: Gallup polled a total of *55,812 adults who received degrees between 1940 and 2015, but this specific report included 1,758 graduates from PWIs and only 520 graduates from HBCUs. I don't know much about algebra, but with that initial sample, there were already going to be very skewed results.

Also, I think that Gallup failed to precisely define well-being. If I graduated from college in May 2014, I'm going to probably be feeling myself a little bit different compared to someone who graduated college in 1984. But I let them rock though. 

Now don't get me wrong - I have the utmost respect and admiration for historically black colleges and universities and what they represent. I have a host of family members and friends who attended HBCUs for undergraduate and graduate studies and loved every minute of their experience. But truth be told, there were many times during my years at 'Cuse where we definitely turned up and it felt like an HBCU (G.U.F weekend, I see you.)

Believe it or not, in the spring of my senior year of high school, I vividly remember having to choose between Syracuse and Spelman College. And while I probably I would've enjoyed my experience as a Spelman woman, I knew deep down that Syracuse was going to give me the well-rounded experience that I knew my high school had prepared me for.

Truthfully, your college experience is what you make it. While I can only speak for myself, attending Syracuse University has definitely given me a stronger sense of well-being and confidence, a great network of friends who have become family, and a host of mentors who have supported me from the time I walked on campus until now.

Yes, growing up and watching shows like A Different World and movies like Drumline definitely did cause me to wonder what life would be like attending an all black college. And after attending North Carolina A&T's Homecoming celebration (GHOE) last weekend, I totally understand why there is so much pride from alumni who have attended HBCUs.

But at the end of the day, I made my choice to attend a PWI not only for the financial aid package and my major, but because I knew that the world after college was going to be full of people who didn't necessarily always look like me. And again, that isn't meant to shade HBCUs and what they stand for, it's just the way of the world.

I think studies like this can be problematic because they raise an unnecessary argument that tries to compare apples to oranges. Attending a school with 22,000 students in a suburban area versus a school with 10,000 students in a metropolitan area will more often times than not going to yield a different experience.

Additionally, there are many more intricacies to the college experience that go beyond Gallup's factors of "decade of graduation, student loan debt and parents' education." Each student is going to have a different situation, and that can't simply be measured by purpose, community involvement or physical well-being. The values that were instilled in me and lessons learned at Syracuse are no doubt going to be different from someone who attended Howard or Hampton. Moral of the story: each institution has groomed us to be stand-up global citizens, so rep' your set and do good for the world!

And while 'swag-surfing' may not be apart of my school's traditional DNA, when the vale of Onondaga meets the eastern sky, I know sway from left to right too.

Let me know your thought bubbles in the comments below!

Oh yeah...and GO ORANGE! ;-)