For years, people have questioned the relevancy of historically black colleges and universities, especially with many of these institutions facing fiscal issues, declining enrollment and cohort default rates. The latest Gallup-USA Funds Minority College Graduates Report, however, finds that HBCU graduates are more likely to prosper after graduation than students who graduate from non-HBCUs.
The study examined 520 black graduates of HBCUs and 1,758 black graduates of other colleges. Gallup looked at five elements of well-being including: purpose, social, financial, community and physical. Then asked graduates about their satisfaction with their college experience and current engagement at work. The results, 55 percent of black HBCU graduates said they felt prepared for life after graduation, while only 29 percent of black graduates from other institutions said they felt prepared.
Gallup found that HBCU graduates are also most likely to have strong relationships, enjoy what they do each day for work, and they are more goal-oriented. However, the biggest gap in well-being among black graduates is in the financial breakdown. The report found that four in 10 black HBCU graduates are more likely to thrive financially while fewer than three in 10 black graduates of other schools can say the same.
“I think this is positive news in the grand scheme of things that we’ve heard recently because there’s still criticism about graduation rates and cohort default rates, but I think this is a whole new set of data that says a lot about the very, very beneficial experiences that are happening for students who attend HBCUs,” Brandon Busteed, executive director of education and workforce development at Gallup, told The Huffington Post.
The study also found that HBCU graduates had stronger emotional and experiential support from mentors, professors and long-term projects they were assigned. Furthermore, these graduates are more likely to strongly agree that their colleges prepared them for post-graduation life than other graduates.
“Not only were black graduates from HBCUs much more likely to say they had a mentor who encouraged their goals and dreams and had a professor who cared about them as a person; they were also more likely to say they had a job or an internship where they applied what they were learning,” Busteed said. “So it’s both the emotional experiences and these experiential things that are connected to work preparation that are separating them according to their graduates.”
Researchers hypothesized that students in Hispanic-Serving Institutions would have similar responses to HBCU graduates, but found that wasn’t the case. Busteed said this is probably because HSIs are based off population and HBCUs are defined more by mission and purpose. He told HuffPost that the intent behind the founding of HBCUs may be a large factor in its graduates’ success rates.
“We think that other colleges and universities could learn a lot from what it is HBCUs do that contribute to that well-being,” Carol D’Amico, senior representative from USA Funds and the study’s sponsor, told The Huffington Post.
Despite the struggles HBCUs face, its overall success at allowing its students a better college experience by offering more emotional and experiential opportunities than at non-HBCUs could be modeled at other universities.