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15 Things To Expect As An HBCU Student

I originally wrote this post for Getschooled.com and it can be found here.

So you've heard of what an HBCU is, but what's it like to attend one? What kinds of people will you encounter? What will you learn? How will it change you as a student? Don't worry, I have all these questions and more covered for you! Here are 15 things to expect as an HBCU student!

1. You will see an abundance of black excellence.

Like-minded students striving to grow and pushing to reach professional and academic success will surround you. Your professors know where you are and what it takes to get you to where you want to be. Everywhere you turn there will be someone doing great things. Enjoy it.

2. Networking will become second nature.

The HBCU network is like having extended family. You will meet tons of successful professionals, alumni, professors, and students just waiting to reach out a helping hand or pass along their knowledge so take advantage!

3. School rivalries feel more like arguing with your cousins.

HBCU students are all interconnected in some way – until it comes down to friendly competition. Whether it’s sports, academia, or who has the most pride, no one will ever be able to talk down upon, discredit, challenge, or speak ill of your HBCU in your presence. Your comebacks will be delivered with rapid-fire precision and you will more than likely gain friends from your rival HBCU because of how much fun you have going back and fourth with each other. Just know, at the end of the day it’s all love.

4. Just like the Force, your school pride will always be with you.

Your HBCU will become your second home and nothing will ever change that. It will have a significant role in influencing who you become and you will develop an undying love for your campus, much like the rest of us.

5. Homecoming is a BIG deal.

Most schools have a homecoming weekend but at an HBCU it will most likely be a full week of activities. There will be concerts, fashion shows, comedy nights, lyceum events, step shows, foot ball games, tailgates and much more! There is no other experience like an HBCU homecoming.

6. Black history will spill over into your other subjects.

Whether you take a class devoted to the subject or not, you will most likely learn tidbits of black history wherever you go on an HBCU campus. You will learn about all the ways and spaces black people have shaped the world. It won’t matter if it’s math, biology, psychology or English class; black history 365 is real.

7. Alumni have opened-door policies from the jump.

Most HBCUs have very notable and successful alumni who are eager to give back and pass the torch. They will connect with you and if you’re lucky, provide internship and research opportunities to help you out along the way!

8. Random pep rallies and turn-ups around campus are the norm.

It’s not uncommon to be walking back to your dorm and notice, out of nowhere; a full-blown party has formed in the middle of the yard. There will be students gathering, Greeks stepping, and a DJ blasting music —in broad daylight, for absolutely no reason but to be hype before class. Don’t ask questions, just go!

9. You will end up devoting half of your life to some kind of organization.

It’s very difficult to avoid being involved with something on an HBCU campus. You will most likely join a sorority or fraternity, the band, student government or one of the many other student-oriented organizations on campus. And you will love every minute of it.

10. The cafeteria is really a runway in disguise.

At HBCUs, the cafeteria is prime stomping ground for all things fashion. At some point you will wonder how an entire fashion show popped up in the line for chicken Wednesday. It happens to the best of us.

11. No games are played when it comes to the band.

Half time will never be the same. HBCU bands are notorious for showing up and showing out! Joining one is like being adopted by a second family.

12. You will most likely see celebs drop in on campus.

Celebrities love HBCUs. Whether they come for an event, a lecture, to teach, for homecoming, to endorse a cause, or to just show love as alumni, you will bump into someone famous on your campus at some point!

13. You will be exposed to diversity in all aspects.

Contrary to popular belief, HBCUs are extremely diverse. You will be exposed to professors and fellow classmates that come from all religions, sexual orientations, races, backgrounds, cultures and creeds, and economic levels.

14. Financial aid is always a struggle.

You will experience financial aid challenges no matter where you go. The relationship with your school’s financial aid office will be wonderful some days and not so great on others. Just remember when it comes to money for college, where there’s a will there’s a way. And also, become best friends with everyone in the financial aid office. It will help!

15. Your glow up will be strong.

Growth is inevitable. You will find out more about yourself than you’ve ever discovered before. You will be challenged culturally, intellectually, politically, and professionally. Don’t be afraid. Dive in and be great!