Freshman enrollment at historically black colleges and universities, or HBCUs, has increased dramatically for the fall of 2016; as much as 49% at Shaw University in North Carolina, as reported by The Washington Post[1]. The rise is seemingly buoyed by the desire to avoid racial tensions plaguing many predominantly white institutions (PWI) within the last year at campuses across the country, including Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and most infamously, the University of Missouri.


Ignoring racial campus climate during the college decision process at such a critical juncture in race relations and dialogue in the US could prove costly for black students. Starting college is often a stressful transition for most students, however, the prevalence of stressors is often higher for students of color. Since 2011, The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education has maintained blog of alleged campus racial incidents and reports of discrimination. In addition to blatant and intentional instances of racism, black students report feeling the most “drained” from repeated incidents of covert racism, such as microaggressions[2].


Diversity Weekends or “Fly-Ins” are a great resource for students of color still considering non-HBCUs as they narrow down their college choice. These programs are held each fall to give students a preview of a university’s campus culture and ostensibly, its commitment to diversity. This is an excellent alternative to an average college tour, which largely consists of a one-hour tour of the school’s newest buildings and amenities, which as one wise admissions veteran warns, should never play major role in students’ decision to attend. The first obvious advantage of these programs are the length: prospective students have the opportunity to stay in the dorms with current students–selected by faculty and staff and actively involved in student affairs–, eat in the cafeterias, attend classes, sporting and campus events. Also, these programs generally provide full or partial funding for student travel to and from campus. Lastly and most important, attendees are introduced to institutional support systems, including diverse faculty, student associations and mentoring programs, that will serve as a vital resource should they decide to enroll.


Visit the links below for a listing of Diversity Weekend application details and deadlines.





Shanna Houser BS Human Development; MA Psychology

[1] Strauss, V. (2016, September 11). Enrollments surge at historically black colleges amid rise in racial tensions. The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2016/09/11/enrollments-surge-at-historically-black-colleges-amid-rise-in-racial-tensions/


[2] Solorzano, D., Ceja, M., & Yosso, T. (2000). Critical race theory, racial microaggressions, and campus racial climate: The experiences of African American college students. Journal of Negro Education, 60-73.


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