High school Students Consider HBCU vs. PWI

High school students are considering their college choices closely following the University of Missouri racial incidents. The question of whether to attend a Historically Black College (HBCU) or Predominantly White College (PWI) as it relates to a college experience they’ll cherish is pondered.

In the weeks preceding concerns of high school students nationally, University of Missouri, known to its students as Mizzou, garnered national attention because of the resignation of Mizzou President, Tim Wolfe. This came as a result of student unrest over episodes of alleged racial bias that critics say were treated frivolously by campus administration.

Following Wolfe’s resignation, African American students on Mizzou’s campus alleged that Klu Klux Klan members, a notorious hate group, have threatened their safety on and off campus.

Ahuoma Ochukwueke, 17, wants to avoid potential race problems by going to a HBCU, she said. The Edward R Murrow High School student said a college with a largely black student body “is important to my decision,” and will influence the way she is treated as a student of color.

Simisola Okeowo, 16, Kingsborough Early College Secondary School, was informed about the racial incidents at Mizzou. Simisola said: “It makes me not want to go to a PWI, because of the racism African Americans and Latino people go through.”

Laura Schneider, a counselor for eight years at Edward R Murrow High School said, high school officials have made it part of their work to understand how the social and political climates on college campuses influence their students’ potential college choices.

Schneider said “it depends on the student” whether race should be a deciding factor when choosing a college.

Oluwasegun Owoyele, a 16-year-old Uncommon Collegiate Charter student, doesn’t think much about attending a HBCU or PWI, even though he prefers HBCU.

“There is racism everywhere,” he said.

Oluwasegun said the Mizzou events do not affect him directly but have opened his “eyes to the bad things in the world and how crazy people can be.”
Simisola says, “They didn’t care for the student’s safety, it’s really sad. History repeats itself.”

JoAnn Papamichael, a teacher also at Edward R. Murrow High School, says students should opt for a college or university that is multi-ethnic.

“(Students) should strive to be in as diverse an atmosphere as possible,” Papamichael said.
She also believes people should be free to do as they want but a parent who went to a HBCU might want the same school setting for their child and vice versa for a Predominantly White Institution. She mentions she would want her daughter to go to a highly diverse school.

While the high school society believes diversity may have to play as a criteria when choosing a higher education institute, college students thought otherwise.

“(Race) doesn’t really matter, because what matters is the school academic-wise,” says Altin Osaj, a Brooklyn College sophomore.

He also said that when he was applying to college, race did not matter to him: “(It was) no problem.”

Matthew Vialva, 31 , University of Hampton graduate, said he didn’t have to worry about racial prejudice at a HBCU.

“I think the issue that happened at University of Missouri would not happen at a HBCU,” he said.  He said there have been cultural differences at HBCU campuses, however.