Five Interesting Pros and Cons of HBCUs and PWIs


So you’re stuck? “PWI or HBCU?” Read on to discover things about both. *DISCLAIMER: Of course this doesn’t apply to ALL HBCUs and PWIs, these are just some common things and things I gathered from research! I’m not trying to make an HBCU seem better than a PWI nor am I trying to make a PWI look better than an HBCU! I suggest taking a tour around the campus and asking current students or alumni for the truth!

The school year is about to start or may have already started for some of you. You seniors have begun to seriously think about schools you may want to apply to and may have already started applying. Some of you may be thinking, “Do I want to attend an HBCU or a PWI?” You may not even know the differences between the two. If that’s the case, this is for you!

What is an HBCU?

HBCU stands for Historically Black College and University! It’s defined in Title III of the Higher Education Act of 1965 as “a school of higher learning that was accredited and established before 1964 and whose principal mission was the education of African-Americans.” There are 106 HBCUs.

What is a PWI?

PWI stands for Predominately White Institution. PWIs are just schools of higher learning in which whites accounts for at least 50% of the school’s enrollment.

  1. You have a better chance of getting a scholarship from a PWI than an HBCU.

That’s simply because PWIs have higher endowments, which are money or other financial assets that are donated to universities or colleges, than HBCUs. They say that if you add up all the endowments from all the HBCU’s, they would still have less than 10% of Harvard’s endowment.  Also HBCUs don’t have as much financial support from alumni so they don’t have money to give out as many scholarships as PWIs. You could get full rides to the University of Georgia (UGA), University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Florida State University (FSU), and Alabama but could only get a partial scholarship from Howard. If you don’t get a scholarship from any institution, HBCU’s tuition tends to be cheaper than that of a PWI.


  1. Homecoming at an HBCU is more reputable than homecoming at a PWI.

Homecoming at an HBCU is a week of enjoyment, from the motivational speakers, to the games, and to the concerts. As a minority, it makes you feel like you’re “home”.  Homecoming at a PWI is different.  Your school’s location also plays a role! Alabama’s homecoming is probably nothing like Michigan State’s Homecoming!  At HBCU homecomings, people look forward to yard shows seeing top Hip-Hop & R&B performers.  Not all HBCUs have “lit” homecomings though, it tends to only be the bigger schools. 

  1. The bands and dancers are different at an HBCU and PWI.

Bands at an HBCU are more likely to be the show style type of band. PWI’s bands are seen to be corp style. You know the song “Cha Cha” by D.R.A.M?  Tennessee State’s band performed that last year at a football game. Bands at PWI’s are more so infamous for their band formations. Ohio State’s band is real nice with it. They once did Michael Jackson formations and moon-walked across the football field! Oh, and the dancers?  Check it out for yourself.  Alabama State’s Stingettes! An experience you can’t find at a PWI. Oklahoma State’s Dance Team.

  1. At a PWI, people are more likely to recognize your school’s name than at an HBCU.

Even though Howard is one of the best HBCUs, if you say “Howard” there are some people who may not know that the school exists.  If you say “I go to Florida State”, most likely they’ll know what you’re talking about.  People think that this will also play a role into you getting a job opportunity or not. Some say if the person at the job doesn’t know much about HBCUs, they would take the person with a Master’s degree from Georgia Tech than the person with a Master’s degree from Clark Atlanta. That is of course a theory though.  Personally, I’d rather take someone with experience, no matter the school name.


  1. HBCU’s sometimes have smaller classes than PWI’s.

Some say that HBCU’s have smaller classes than PWI’s. This isn’t always the case though.  HBCU professors may know your name while PWI professors can’t keep up with the plethora of names. With a smaller class size, you can get more one-on-one support from your professor than you would at a larger university.  Also with a larger class size, the way you receive your education could also be different than being in a small class. With a larger class size, classes are more likely to be lecture hall classes. Lecture classes don’t work for everyone, but they do work for some people especially if you like to stay to yourself. Smaller class sizes promote an interactive setting, where there will be a lot of student participation.

Whether you choose to attend an HBCU or a PWI, make sure you conduct your own research because every school is different!  A PWI may work better or an HBCU may work better for you. Some people would also say to go to an HBCU for undergrad because the campus life is one that you can’t get outside of an HBCU and to go to a PWI for grad! Every school is going to have its own faults honestly, but just make the best decision for your needs!

Want to learn more about HBCUs?  Check out HBCU Buzz and HBCU Lifestyle!

Want more viewpoints?  Check out these 2 YouTube videos on other people comparing HBCUs and PWIs!  Alice Wheeler’s video ( )  & Brelynn’s video! ( )



Ways to Learn About Colleges Without Visiting Them


Autumn is dawning upon us in just a few weeks, which means a couple things: holidays, festive Starbucks drinks, and of course, college applications. The college application process is practically a world on its own, connecting our high school world with our soon-to-be college world. The first step to the college application process is actually having an idea on where you would want to be for the next four years. While visiting the colleges is always the best choice in this decision making process, you may not always have the time or money, especially if you are looking at out-of-state or international schools. Here are some helpful and just as meaningful alternatives: workshopgraphic.jpg

Research, Research, Research!!! Did I Say Research?

Since you are probably on the internet for the majority of your days, use that to your advantage and browse through various websites and forums that are prospective college student friendly. There are plenty of websites on the internet that include, but are not limited to, college rankings, facts, reviews, and other opinions. Yes, guidebooks can provide this information as well, but the internet has more options, especially when it comes to getting insight from actual college students.

Start off with hitting up the actual websites of the college to learn directly about its history and facts. Then you can begin narrowing down your choices by surfing through student incentive websites, such as Shmoop, College Niche, and College Confidential. Shmoop provides a whole section dedicated to college, where you can find tips on choosing a college and fun little college profiles that can give you a laugh in this stressful process. College Niche and College Confidential are written by students for students. College Niche guides prospective students with reviews and ratings of colleges, and College Confidential has multiple forums where you can interact with current students at colleges, or even with others that are going through the same path as you. Always remember though to research smart and not hard, and look out for any biased or unreliable sources.

Key to Success: Communication

Another way to get a better feel of a campus is to talk directly to advisors, professors, or students from a specific college. Websites like the ones listed above can provide you with chat groups, but the best way to communicate is if you assert yourself first. Usually, there are helpful links and tools on college websites for prospective students where you can contact and talk to members of that college. Professors’ and advisors’ emails are also listed on college websites, and you are actually encouraged to write them an email. Not only will you learn more about the college, but you will also put yourself on a pedestal that says “I am very interested in your school!” which will give you better connections and chances. Talking with your guidance counselor is also key, because chances are they have been doing this for a while, and even if you think they are no help, they have the connections and ability to put you on talking terms with alumni and other students and advisors from the college. Also look out for chats led by current students provided by the college, where dates are usually listed when you sign up for college newsletters. You may be one fish in a huge sea, but it will definitely be worth your while.


Local, At Home Help

You can get almost the same amount of insightful help for colleges in your local area. First off, as mentioned before, talk to your local adults (preferably counselors and teachers)! At most high schools, the administrators and overall faculty use a handful of their time during the fall season of the school year to provide as much help as possible to college-interested seniors. Your high school guidance counselors are practically trained to know the ins and outs of colleges and the college application process. They will usually have multiple pamphlets on various colleges all over the country, as well as college guidebooks. If you have never talked to your counselors before, here is your last chance to start doing so!

One of the best resources are your city’s or county’s college fairs. The college booth or station equivalent of a college campus tour will give you just as much information, especially since there will be a college representative there to answer your questions and talk to you. Also, there will be multiple college information booths present at the fair, so you can start checking off colleges on your list as you go from station to station. Make sure to come prepared with questions and look professional, since these representatives may be interested in you and ask for your information.

You can actually use the digital age to your benefit once again. When you have done all this but still need an extra push to narrow down your choices, take a look at online virtual tours of the colleges. It may not be as invigorating as a real life campus tour, but it can be that little effect that will make or break your decisions.

This Is Just The Beginning

Keep in mind that touring and researching colleges are just the beginning to this new and exciting application process, and that applying to college is the first step to a new chapter in your life. In the end, while all these alternatives will only serve for your benefit, try extremely hard to at least visit and tour the top schools on your college list. It’s especially important to tour the campus once you receive the decision letters in the spring so that you know whether you are making the right choice or not. Picture yourself everyday on that campus, and work hard to make it happen.