According to an Associated Press analysis of government data 37 percent of black students graduate from HBCUs within six years, while only 29 percent of black males graduate from HBCUs within six years. Spelman College, Howard University and Morehouse College have the highest graduation rates of all HBCUs.
Just 29 percent of HBCU males finish bachelor’s degree in six years
MEMPHIS, Tenn. – They’re no longer the only option for African-American students, but the country’s historically black colleges and universities brag that they provide a supportive environment where these students are more likely to succeed.
That, though, is not necessarily true.
An Associated Press analysis of government data on the 83 federally designated four-year HBCUs shows just 37 percent of their black students finish a degree within six years. That’s 4 percentage points lower than the national college graduation rate for black students.
One major reason: the struggles of black men. Just 29 percent of HBCU males complete a bachelor’s degree within six years, the AP found.
A few HBCUs, like Howard and all-female Spelman, have much higher graduation rates, exceeding the national averages for both black and white students. But others are clustered among the worst-performing colleges in the country. At 38 HBCUs, fewer than one in four men who started in 2001 had completed a bachelor’s degree by 2007, the data show. At Texas Southern, Voorhees, Edward Waters and Miles College, the figure was under 10 percent.
To be sure, women are outperforming men across education, and many non-HBCUs struggle with low graduation rates. And the rates don’t account for students who transfer or take more than six years, which may be more common at HBCUs than at other schools.
Reading this article had me thinking about a letter to the editor I read in the January 2009 issue of Black Enterprise Magazine. A reader mentioned how he was appalled at the list of the Top 50 Colleges for African Americans which included the black graduation rates. The schools listed were HBCUs and non HBCUs (predominantly white universities). He mentioned how even though the article factored in the academic and social environment of the school, the main purpose of attending college is to graduate. The letter writer was saddened to read that with the exception of Spelman College and Howard University, all the HBCUs had black graduation rates of under 60 percent while most of the non HBUCs had black graduation rates of over 70 percent. I checked this out for myself by looking for my September 2008 issue. I’ll admit that I was a bit surprised to read the difference in graduation rates of black students at HBCU’s and non HBCUs. And here’s why:
UNCF, the United Negro College Fund, which represents 39 private HBCUs, said on its Web site the “average graduation rate at HBCU(s) is higher than the average graduation rate for African-Americans at majority institutions” — a claim that is contradicted, both for HBCUs and UNCF members, by the AP’s findings.
After inquiries from the AP, the organization removed that statement.
Many folks in the black community are always talking about how nurturing and how much better black students are doing at HBCUs. But apparently the graduation rates of black students at HBCUs shows a different story. According to the Black Enterprise article some of the HBCUs have graduation rates for black students under 40 percent.
Even some within the tight-knit HBCU community say the schools bear some responsibility. They say too many HBCUs have grown content offering students a chance at college, but resisting the hard work to get them through.
“I think HBCUs have gotten lazy,” said Walter Kimbrough, president of Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Ark. “That was our hallmark 40, 50 years ago. We still say ‘nurturing, caring, the president knows you.’ That’s a lie on a lot of campuses. That’s a flat-out lie.”
I know some black folks will be upset about this article but how can you brag about how nurturing your campus is yet the graduation rates for black students remains low?
You can read the entire article here.
UPDATE: I found the Black Enterprise Top 50 Colleges for African Americans at Black Enterprise.com. You can check out the information on HBCUs and non HBCUs and their black student graduation rates. I found that the magazine gives a little bit more information on the graduation rates compared to the website. The website gives more info on social groups, application information and has Admission Q&As.