Erlene Wilson could give any guidance counselor a run for his or
her money. What she does in the revised and updated edition of The 100
Best Colleges for African American Students is provide an invaluable
resource for any student of color who is even considering pursuing
With a forward by poet and professor Nikki Giovanni, this guide is equal parts information and inspiration.
The ever eloquent Giovanni, now a professor of English at Virginia
Polytechnic Institute and State University, delivers sermonesque
revelations in her preamble, comparing African American college
students to the first pioneering Black explorers to reach the shores of
“Walk together, Children … and don’t you get weary,” she advises,
urging that African American students will have to find a way to
Which leads directly to the essence of Wilson’s guide. She has
clearly submerged herself evenly in the worlds of the Black student and
the college administrator — precisely what makes the guide a treasure.
It’s evident that Wilson understands fully the plight of Black college
students as well as what it will take for them to overcome the
obstacles and succeed in what she calls our “schizophrenic higher
Her compilation encompasses everything a student should know to
overcome the obstacles, from scholarship and financial aid information
to a well-organized, quick reference to the 100 colleges she selected.
Preceding the quick-reference section, which is the bulk of the
361-page text, she presents suggestions that all pre-college students
of color should consider. She offers insights on the type of student
who can handle a traditionally White institution, as opposed to the
student who might best be nurtured at a historically Black school;
warns about the difficulties of being a college athlete; and offers
community colleges as a good option for African American students with
marginal grades and limited financial resources.
Included as well is a handy section subtitled, “Financing Your
Education,” Wilson breaks down the differences and advantages of Pell
grants, Perkins loans, college work-study grants — and more. She then
goes on to list numerous organizations that give scholarships to
minority students, with contact names and numbers to boot.
The college reference section stops just short of physically
delivering the student to the campus. A wealth of information teems
this portion of the manual, as Wilson provides among other things: the
total number of African American students at each college, its academic
offerings, the African American student organizations, prominent
African American alumni, the average SAT score of incoming freshman,
and the health services available to students. She then renders a meaty
synopsis for each institution, complete with the school’s mission along
with testimonies from current students.
This woman has done her homework.
Backing up her 100 college selections are depositions from African
Americans who have achieved success in a variety of fields on how their
college choice contributed to their achievements.
Wilson deserves much praise for the comprehensive and thorough
manual she has assembled. The former advice columnist for college women
at Glamour magazine couldn’t have done more if she got 1,000 buses and
took every Black student on a cross-country college tour herself. Every
college hopeful, parent, and guidance counselor should own a copy.
Jamilah Evelyn is a staff writer for Black Issues in Higher Education and a recent graduate of Howard University.
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© Copyright 2005 by DiverseEducation.com