By Zenitha Prince
(Trice Edney Wire) – Despite their ongoing struggles, HBCUs are doing a better job than other institutions of producing Black alumni who are thriving, particularly in their financial well-being and career purpose, according to recent results of an ongoing Gallup study.
That is “positive news” for the nation’s embattled HBCUs, Brandon Busteed, executive director of Gallup Education and Workforce Development, toldInside Higher Ed.
“There are still noticeable challenges around completion rates and loan default rates, and this data doesn’t change that,” Busteed said. “But this data does add a whole new dimension to the conversation about the value of HBCUs. Black students are having very meaningful experiences at HBCUs, compared to Black graduates from everywhere else.”
The findings were published in the new “Gallup-USA Funds Minority College Graduates Report.” The study is the result of an ongoing Gallup-Purdue University survey that has collected data from more than 55,000 college graduates. The study seeks to ascertain what colleges are doing to effect the future social, financial, purpose, community and physical well-being of their graduates.
Fifty-five percent of Black HBCU graduates were more likely to “strongly agree” that their colleges prepared them for life after graduation compared to 29 percent of Black graduates of other institutions.
That assessment seemed to correlate with experiences such as having a professor who cared about them as a person, a professor who made them excited about learning and a mentor who encouraged them to pursue their goals and dreams.
Black graduates of HBCUs were also more likely to report involvement in applied internships, long-term projects and extracurricular activities.
Such experiences strongly impact graduates’ well-being later in life, Gallup found.
Black HBCU alumni reported higher thriving rates in all five areas of well-being, the largest gap coming in the area of financial well-being. While four in 10 Black HBCU graduates reported doing well in managing their finances to reduce stress and increase security, fewer than three in 10 (29 percent) of Black graduates of other schools reported the same.
There was also an eight percentage point difference in reports of “purpose well-being” between Black HBCU graduates and Black graduates from other institutions.
Examinations of other minority graduates and institutions did not produce similarly striking results.
“Although HBCUs are struggling in a number of areas, their overall success in providing
Black graduates with a better college experience than they would get at non-HBCUs needs to be examined more closely, and potentially modeled, at other institutions,” the researchers wrote. “The profoundly different experiences that Black graduates of HBCUs and Black graduates of non-HBCUs are having in college leave the HBCU graduates feeling better prepared for life after graduation, potentially leading them to live vastly different lives outside of college.”