One-of-a-Kind HBCU Experience
Bare with me as I try to condense my thoughts because this is a topic I have been talking about for three years now. But since I am graduating with honors and without debt, I feel like it’s time that I review parts of my HBCU experience. You may agree. You may disagree. You may think I’m some self-centered, bougie brat. But if you should know anything about me, it’s that I DO NOT CARE WHAT YOU THINK =)
First thing first, I don’t like a lot of one type of people. What does that mean? I don’t like to be around a bunch of black people, and I don’t like to be around a bunch of white people. I need mixed crowds in order to sustain. Now that’s out of the way, in high school when I realized I was getting closer and closer to graduation I swore up and down I would never, EVER, NEVER in the history of EVER attend an HBCU. I didn’t like the lack of organization, drama and constant scheming of administrators at my all black high school, so I knew attending a black college would only piss me off more.
But not only that, I had questions. A LOT of questions. I, like most of you, hear nothing good about HBCUs. You only see fights, sports and administration schemes online and on the news. They never highlight the engineering programs or the community events, but how media portrays black people is a totally different blog.
Back to my questions: Who graduates in the top 2% of their class and NOT go to a prestigious school? The test scores to get in are so low, why would I attend an HBCU and be smarter than more than half of the students? Are HBCUs even going to challenge me? I don’t like partying or drinking, so what else is there to do on a HBCU campus? What is so special about an HBCU aside from their band, Divine 9 and athletics? Are HBCUs safe? Is ANYONE going to hire me with a degree from a school people keep mistaking for the University of South Carolina?
I can’t say anyone answered all my questions before I started my freshman year. And honestly, I can’t say I know the answers a month and 14 days away from graduation. My high school counselor and assistant principal said the HBCU experience could not be compared to anything else. (THAT is surely a fact.) It was a family environment, and minorities get more opportunities for grad school coming from an HBCU than coming from a majority white school.
That’s what they said. I didn’t think any of that was relevant. But it was July. And I wasn’t going to Mercer because I needed 9,000 MORE dollars, and I don’t believe in having loans before I even have a job. So hey. They got me in South Carolina State University on a Presidential Scholarship, so I had to pay nothing. And off to Orangeburg I drove.
FIRST DAY IN ORANGEBURG
How in the world did I end up here? What the heck!?!? Where the heck!?!?! WHO knew what Orangeburg was? I definitely didn’t. I know I came to orientation and said Oh craaapppp this isn’t going to be good. I was in high school all over again with 2,000 more people I probably wouldn’t like. But dad was elated that he didn’t have to pay for it, so he didn’t care that it was in the middle of nowhere. The Walmart isn’t even 24 hours! There’s no Publix, Benihana, Kroger, Target, real mall. ANYTHING.
All of it combined just really had me on pins and needles, feeling some type of way about my “path”.
*side bar* If you think I came here and fell in love and now regret bad talking HBCUs…..WRONG!
I left after the first year. I couldn’t take it. I attended UNC Asheville through the National Student Exchange program because SCSU was just so much. I’m a different kind of chick. I can be the life of the party, or I can be the shy chick who’s afraid to say hello, and attending SCSU, it seemed like everyone always wanted spotlight. It was a fashion show, a cool competition, a bad reality TV show. I couldn’t take the crime, the lies, the poor planning, the drama, the ignorance or the stupidity that was surrounding me daily. I was above it then, and I’m above it now.
But I had to come back because NSE was only for a year. And then I got mad when I found out I took a whole semester of classes that had nothing to do with my major; so instead of coming back to State for 1 year, I had 1.5.
SC State is the school that gives you the runaround, not just the first few weeks because everything is hectic, but the ENTIRE year. Go to Financial Aid and they tell you to go to Moss. Go to Moss and they say go to the Cashier’s office. Go to the Cashier’s office, and they send you back to Financial Aid. You’re literally walking around the entire campus and not getting anything accomplished. Call them? They don’t answer the phone. Email? They all have 4,000 unread messages in their inbox. What makes yours so important?
I couldn’t win. And I remember I cried.
I cried because I had to come back. I cried the entire 4 hours from Atlanta to Orangeburg once school started in August of 2011. I called mom like everyday just to tell her I hated it, and I was mad that I had to come back.
If ever I was depressed, it was definitely last year. It didn’t help that I was constantly arguing with my roommates over their boyfriends. Oooo I’m not fit to live with chicks.
I was at a point where I questioned everything and everyone. I never understood why every time I was actually trying to do something good, it backfired. I had no idea what God’s plan was, but I know I was pissed about it. Why send me back to deal with stuff I didn’t deserve to deal with?
I didn’t want to be here at all, and I let everybody know. I just kept comparing State to Asheville: Asheville started their programs on time. Asheville’s student media was actually organized. Asheville didn’t give you the runaround. Asheville wasn’t worried about a bunch of hoodlums stealing the TVs out the of student center. Asheville had police officers who actually did their jobs. Asheville’s courses and curriculum were so much better! Asheville this. Asheville that. Pretty sure that got on some people’s nerves. That wasn’t my intention, but oh well.
But honestly, some of the classes I took and am currently taking at State are a waste of my time. I feel like they can give me these assignments without going to class, and I will STILL make an A. Don’t preach to us about coming to class on time and turning in work and buying books if we don’t use the books and if you don’t penalize the people who aren’t doing what’s “required.” These professors are passing people who don’t deserve to be passed. People would be surprised at some of these papers that get passing grades with all the grammatical and spelling errors.Write a complete sentence. IT’S REALLY NOT THAT DIFFICULT.
People come to class at 12:30. Class ends at 12:50. You’re holding a full blown conversation while the instructor is teaching and the only person who sees a problem with that is me. It’s quite sickening that this is the next generation of the working class. I honestly don’t know how a lot of these people will ever get a job.
But I have a month and 14 days. And it will be over. Just another memory in my big ole head that I may or may not choose to recount when asked by random people how my college years actually went.
Whew! That was a lot. I’m not here to deter you from attending a black college if that’s your plan. At the end of the day it wasn’t ALL bad. True, I won’t miss 98% of these people or this town. But that other 2% has definitely changed my life. I had a lot of memories that will surely bring tears to my eyes as I receive my diploma. There are a lot of nights that the roomies and I went out or even stayed in and just had the most amazing time being crazy. I’ll miss that as I’m sitting in my bed in Georgia bored out of my mind.
And some of my professors will be missed too. The Communications department, though newly constructed and in desperate need of help, has been there for me from the beginning. And I would definitely be remiss if I didn’t mention the Honors Program. They are the reason I am here.
But HBCUs are not for everybody. I can’t say all HBCUs are like State. Maybe they are. Maybe they aren’t. I just know colleges have problems, but a lot of problems State has are of their own doing. But I didn’t research colleges in high school because I didn’t want to attend one. So a good bit of my issues were caused by me. I know that, and I can admit it. But if I didn’t come here, I would have never gone to UNCA and met some of the most amazing people. And I would have never been introduced to the museum class which has provided me with a lot of culture and history. And I would never know my roomies and my guys.
So I came. I left. I came back. I smiled. I cried. And on Dec. 15, I will graduate.
THANK YOU SOUTH CAROLINA STATE UNIVERSITY