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Shayla Pink

UWRT 1102
19 November 2015
Changing the Idea
When you hear the acronyms HBCU and PWI combined with words such as retention
rates and college prep programs there isnt much that comes to mind. This may be because some
people just dont know what these things individually mean so how could people understand how
these things can relate to one another. In short, this combinations of words and acronyms apply
to the graduation and success of African American students in universities or colleges. The idea
that African American students are struggling when it comes to finishing college is a fact that is
more known than anything else pertaining to higher education. Now the focus is how it can be
made possible for African American students to be successful in colleges and universities. One
way that universities can make it more possible for its African American students to be
successful is for universities to provide programs that prepare students for college and mentoring
opportunities that allow them to learn about their resources.
There are many factors to consider when this topic is discussed. The idea of what is the
better school for African American students is the first thing always covered. The argument of if
Predominately White Institutions (PWIs) or Historically Black Colleges and Universities
(HBCUs) are better for the education of African American students. Studies have shown that in
2014 39.5% of African American students graduated from PWIs compared to the 35% from
HBCUs. There are many details that can contribute to these findings. When the incoming

freshman class was compared between certain HBCUs and PWIs it was shown that PWIs have
incoming freshman that have higher GPAs, SAT scores and ACT scores. Student preparedness is
something that should always be taken into consideration when graduation rates are compared. If
a student is not really ready to go into college then how can they find success?
Some individuals believe that HBCUs are more suitable for African American students
because it provides the student with an identity and provides them with more comfort so they
may be more willing to join clubs. In a blog post by Dr. Ray Von Robertson Ph. D he gave many
reasons on why he believes that HBCUs may be better for Americas African American youths.
One reason that he gave was how the persistence of racial incidents on PWI campuses can
affect the psyche of the African American students so that they strive to gain token white
acceptance. This point alone makes the argument of how to better the educational experience of
an African American student better and more productive does not fully rely on the type of school
that a student attends. If a student knows their resources and they are aware that the university
that they attend will help them succeed then how many people that arent their race they are
surrounded by becomes obsolete.
In reality, there are many things that make an HBCU different from a PWI. PWIs get
more funding from both alumni and endorsements when compared to HBCUs. Another
difference is how the faculty behaves on a HBCU campus and on a PWI campus. On a HBCU
campus there is more individualized focus on the students and their wellbeing. On a PWI campus
students must seek out their own mentors, resources and assistance in anything that they need. So
for an African American student that chooses to attend a PWI over a HBCU how can they find
success? Campuses such as PWIs tend to create programs for minority students that assist them
in transitioning to college, giving them mentors, and proving them with opportunities to become

involved on campus. For example, at UNC Charlotte there is the Multicultural Academic Service
office that provides programs mostly for minorities that provides students with a smooth
transition to college.
For African American students getting into college isnt what should be the focus
anymore. Graduation is what really matters. All students at any orientation they attend is told that
in order to be successful one has to be involved in some way on campus. At a PWI an African
American student may feel that their participation may be limited to historically Black Greek
letter organizations and Black Student Associations. This should not be the case and the only
way that would be able to change is if new students are told that they can do whatever they want
and it is also proven in the on-campus culture that such ideas are not realistic. Mentors are
proven to produce more successful students and students have said that having a mentor has
made them feel more comfortable. I have some mentors on UNC Charlottes campus and I
honestly do feel a lot better moving forward with anything either club wise or academically
because I know that my mentors will provide me with good advice and may even experience
some things with me.