College is often referred to as the golden years, but that mantra takes on a whole new meaning for HBCU graduates. HBCU culture resonates with its alumni because it can be such a transformative and enlightening experience.
Historically Black colleges have a rich, unique history, a race-sensitive educational reach, the hottest homecomings and a diverse student body, all of which can’t be replicated at other universities. It’s no wonder why HBCU grads brag about their alma maters for the rest of their lives.
Here are five things that you are guaranteed to miss after graduating from an HBCU.
1. Black Pride
Learning about African American culture isn’t reduced to just Black History Month like at other schools. HBCU's teach their students about Black history, today’s injustices and accomplishments, identity, a sense of community and self-love on a daily basis.
“There are so many things that aren’t taught in grades K-12, regardless of where you’re from,“ said 2016 Hampton University graduate Ngozi Alston. “The erasure of African-American contributions and culture in American history constantly astounds me. At an HBCU, you learn things that you would have to seek out at a PWI (predominantly white institution), meaning you have to know about it enough to look for it in the first place. There’s a wealth of knowledge at your fingertips. At an HBCU, it’s impossible to leave without loving one’s blackness or gaining a greater appreciation for Black culture."
This awakening is commonly found in all of our HBCUs, not just Howard and Hampton.
“HBCU's provided me a feeling of becoming grounded in my identity before entering the world in which situations arise that question it. I have an unshakable foundation instilled in me from my experience,” said Spelman College alumna Reisha Raney, class of 1995.
2. Campus Life and Fun-filled Nights
HBCUs have some of the best homecomings, awesome concerts with the latest and most popular music artists, cool parties and kickbacks.
(Photo Credit: uproxx.com)
There are certain elements you find at an HBCU party, especially those parties that are held during big-time weekends like when the sixth-annual AT&T Nation’s Football Classic comes to RFK Stadium on September 17th.
At an HBCU, it’s not a party without an old school Hip Hop jam with a live DJ and a Greek fraternity stroll. The excitement can be felt in the stands, on the field and in the after parties.
(Photo Credit: Hampton U Omega Psi Phi Fall 2012)
“I miss the parties. I was [in Atlanta] when Freaknik was at its best,” said Raney. "I miss freshman year the most, especially those late nights in the dorm with my roommates and hallmates.”
HBCUs always know how to have a good time. There’s fun medley’s from the band, games against rival schools, day parties, class chants and so much more.
“Every day feels like a cookout where I could talk to anybody because we have a common goal, except at a cookout it’s to have fun, at school it’s to excel,” said North Carolina A&T Senior Marketing major Safiya Parker.
(Photo Credit: nationsfootballclassic.com)
3. Funky Superstitions and Wacky Traditions
I remember being told that walking across the infamous grass would curse you into not graduating. How about the entire campus swelling with excitement in anticipation of the cafeteria’s Fried Chicken Wednesdays? HBCUs have quirky traditions that have stood the tests of time.
“I miss being able to go to the cafe and hearing Hip Hop or old school R&B,” said Hampton University graduate Caleb Jackson, Class of ’15. "These fun little rituals add character and an identity to the university.”
4. A Second Family
“I think the thing I’ll miss most about Hampton is the supportive family environment that it works so hard to produce,” said MBA student Alexander Peters. "Honestly, I’ve never had such amazing friends like I’ve made here in Hampton, and now I never want them to leave. There’s nothing like HBCU solidarity. College is where you make friends for the rest of your life, and during those years they are only a few dorm rooms down the hall instead of states away. HBCU's provide a large and supportive family-style network that can’t be found anywhere else"
These networks are enhanced and maintained through traditional events such as Howard-Hampton football games which not only keep the alumni connected to the present student body, but keep all HBCU's culturally in sync.
When a former HBCU student, now deep in the multi-cultural world of adulthood feels nostalgic about the college glory days, they can always return to their alma mater for homecoming or a Classic football game and relive the past one more time.
These events are also a time that ex-athletes can return to the place where thousands once cheered for them, when they were the main attraction of so many memorable moments.
(Photo Credit: hbcusports.com)
5. Engulfed In Black Excellence
“I’d say what I miss most is being in the constant presence of a critical mass of intelligent and conscious group of black students and black faculty members," said Jackson. "Attending a predominantly white law school where the student body is only 4% black, there are far less of us. At a historically Black college or university, African American students are no longer the minority. There is something powerful about a large community where everyone is ambitious and striving for success“
“I guess what I miss most is being understood by intelligent and amazing people who look like me,” said Ngozi Alston. “Outside of HBCU's, I’m seen as Black first, and it’s a little hard to readjust to that again.”
Historically Black colleges and universities are filled with fun, educational challenges, class spirit, culture and Black pride. Attending one can shape a student into an incredibly successful alumni by giving them a better understanding of Black culture and providing a predominantly African-American culture that nurtures and understands minority potential and talent.
The AT&T Nation's Football Classic® is a black college football game held annually at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. Now in its sixth year, the 2016 game features Howard University against Hampton University and will be played on Saturday, September 17.