The National Urban League and USA Funds collaborated to hold a two-day Higher Education Summit in Washington, D.C., coinciding with Gallup’s release of a new survey of minority college graduates.
Gallup interviewed nearly 60,000 college graduates who obtained a bachelor’s degree between 1940 and 2015, with the goal of determining graduates’ “well-being index.” The index was based on five elements: purpose, social, financial, community and physical well-being. Only 10 percent of all graduates were found to be “thriving” in all five areas, as opposed to “struggling” or “suffering.”
One of the survey’s noteworthy findings centered on the experiences of graduates of historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). The survey found that HBCUs offered Black graduates a better college experience than Black graduates at predominantly White institutions (PWIs) in terms to the metrics Gallup chose to evaluate.
A full 58 percent of Black HBCU graduates reported that their professors cared about them as individuals, compared to the only 25 percent of Black graduates of PWIs who felt the same way. In addition, 42 percent of Black HBCU grads reported having a mentor who encouraged them to pursue their goals, compared to 23 percent of Black PWI graduates.
“[The Gallup survey] reaffirms and makes a strong case for the value, the viability and the need for continued investment in historically Black colleges and universities,” said Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League.
The differences between Black graduates of HBCUs and Black graduates of PWIs continue after college, the survey found. Significantly more Black HBCU graduates reported that their university prepared them well for life outside of college compared to Black graduates of PWIs, at a rate of 55 percent to 29 percent respectively.
Moreover, 51 percent of Black HBCU graduates were found to be “thriving” in terms of Gallup’s purpose well-being index, compared to 43 percent of Black PWI graduates. The differences in terms of financial well-being were also striking: 40 percent of Black HBCU graduates were found to be thriving in that area compared to only 29 percent of Black PWI graduates.
“The fact that [Gallup has] documented … the value proposition of historically Black universities is good news, but it’s also good news that Black students have choices,” Morial said. “[Black students] have HBCUs, which we need to maintain and make stronger, but they also have mainstream institutions that many attend, as well as community colleges.”
Black students have many more choices available to them in the postsecondary field than they did prior to the civil rights era. The graduation rates at HBCUs reflect this societal shift. Between 2010 and 2011, HBCUs awarded 16 percent of Black graduates’ bachelor’s degrees, compared to their 35 percent graduation rate between 1976 and 1977.
Gallup also surveyed Hispanic graduates of Hispanic-serving institutions (HSIs). Unlike the Black graduates of HBCUs, Hispanic graduates of HSIs did not have a markedly different college experience than their peers at PWIs. At HSIs and non HSIs alike, 28 percent of Hispanic graduates reported that their professors cared about them as a person.
Staff writer Catherine Morris can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.