by Sheridan Chanel
Historically black colleges and universities are making a comeback in popularity among aspiring/incoming college students. HBCUs everywhere seem to be reporting major increases in first-year freshman students for the fall 2017. HBCU Digest reports that the nation’s biggest HBCU, North Carolina A&T State University has a fall 2017 enrollment of 11,877 students total. This is the largest student body in the entire history of the institution.
And it looks like A&T isn’t the only one. Central State University, Alcorn State University, Elizabeth City State University, Kentucky State University, and Virginia State University are all reporting major spikes in freshman student body enrollment in the 2017-2018 school year alone. This is a major feat for some HBCUs, most notably Elizabeth City State, which, according to Blavity, formerly had a five-year negative enrollment trend.
In terms of 2017 freshman enrollment, Virginia State University noted a 50 percent increase, Central State University noted a 13 percent increase, while Alcorn State University reported a 38 percent increase.
Kentucky State University reported a massive increase in freshman student enrollment of over 160 percent.
Though 2017 marks major spikes in overall first-year student enrollment, the upward tick in students attending HBCUs started last year. Since 2016, there has been some speculation as to what has caused the increase in enrollment of HBCUs across the country for students in pursuit of higher learning.
Dillard University President Walter M. Kimbrough explained in a 2016 interview with NPR that he believed racial tensions were the reason more college students of color were seeking post-secondary education in the classrooms of HBCUs.
During the interview, Kimbrough was quoted as saying:
“Missouri became the tipping point for African-American students on predominately white campuses that they were just not going to take it anymore. And, really, last year wasn’t the beginning. If you go back even a year before that, you had black students at University of Michigan with the hashtag #beingblackatmichigan, and they sort of aired everything that was going on there. Black students at Harvard had the campaign I, Too, Am Harvard where they held up placards with some of the phrases that have been said to them by white students, like I’m surprised you’re here, can you read, it must be easy to get into Harvard if you’re black, those kinds of things.”
Read the article on HBCU enrollment in full over at HBCU Digest.
Sheriden Chanel is a twenty-something writer, Beyoncé enthusiast, and lover of all things visual art. Keep up with her and her musings on social via @indiebyline.