Historically Black, Currently a Little Less Black

America’s historically black colleges are now getting even more diverse. According to an article by Sue Shellenbarger in the Wall Street Journal:

In what has become a mutually beneficial relationship for schools and students, many of the nation’s 105 historically black colleges are increasingly wooing non-black students. The goals: to boost lagging enrollment and offset funding shortfalls.

Some black colleges are stepping up recruiting at mostly white or Hispanic high schools and community colleges. Delaware State University is bringing 100 Chinese students to its Dover campus this fall for cultural and language training. Other colleges are showcasing unique programs. Florida Memorial University in Miami Gardens promotes its chorale, which backed Queen Latifah in the 2010 Super Bowl, for example.

That’s because black students are now highly sought after at other, historically white, colleges, which makes wooing high-achieving black students pretty difficult.

About 82 percent of students at the nation’s historically black colleges are actually black. But for many non-black students the attraction to black schools is often financial. Many of these schools offer generous scholarships to students of different backgrounds. And increasing the number of white, Hispanic, or Asian students can help offset declining applications from black students.

At first many students are surprised when they come to historically black schools. According to the article one Hispanic student, Celia Soto, decided to attend a tiny black school, Paul Quinn College, in Dallas Texas. As Soto explained:

I felt weird, like, ‘Oh my God, I’m the only one’ who wasn’t African-American. But after spending time at Paul Quinn, it doesn’t really matter if you’re Hispanic or any other race.

Well no, it does matter. It’s just that it’s not the most important thing that matters. This is something, after all, that black students have been discovering in historically white colleges for years.

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Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer