A historically black college or university, or HBCU for short, is exactly as the name suggests. These are post-secondary institutions have traditionally been a home for black students. While there are many advantages one could have from attending an HBCU, these schools also come with disadvantages for the student that is considering attending one.

History of the HBCU

The first HBCUs emerged in the late 1800s to fulfill a need. After slavery, there were an abundance of African-Americans who desired further education but had never been granted access to such a thing before. These individuals also could not attend universities with white students since most were still segregated. A black college was the only place for many of them to go. Now, HBCUs remain in place largely due to tradition. Universities such as Howard and Morgan State also carry great prestige to the black community due to their history.

Environment

Generally, if you are a black student you may find the environment of an HBCU very appealing. After all, you would be surrounded by thousands of students who look just like you. It's that same environment, however, that leads to a disadvantage. In the real world not everyone is going to be of the same race or background. This can make it difficult for some people to adjust once they leave this environment, not knowing how to handle working with other ethnic groups.

Competition

Because the majority of individuals attending HBCUs are black, this can cause great competition amongst peers. Everyone is vying for the same leadership positions in organizations and will usually qualify for any special scholarships and recognitions. At a non-HBCU, a black student would be the minority and can set themselves apart. At an HBCU they are just like everyone else, generally speaking, so they would need to do more to stand out.

Opportunity

In a way, this could be an advantage and a disadvantage at the time. For starters, many employers looking to diversify their workplace may visit or try to hire from HBCUs. On the other side, many HBCUs may be overlooked for more traditional schools when companies are looking to hire or partner up with a university for special programs. If you are looking for programs not tailored for black students, your options may be limited by attending an HBCU.