The Roberts Rant: To Go or Not to Go? That is the Problem…

Decisions, decisions. We all have to make them. At the beginning of the school year, College Board gave me 73 colleges to consider applying to that fit my preferences. But now, with my high school career coming to an impacting end, I’ve narrowed my choices down to two categories of colleges that are very different: Historically Black Colleges/Universities (HBCU) and well, I don’t want to say “white schools,” so let’s call them non-HBCU’s.

The contrasts between these two groups of schools have presented me with a dilemma facing African Americans today: should I stay in my natural habitat where most of the people I see don’t look like me but the education is more desirable than that of most places, or should I venture out into a new environment where the color black is dominant?

One good thing about going to a HBCU is that I would get to experience a new environment. I’ve been in MCPS for about ten years and I’ve always taken some type of honors class. It’s pretty discouraging when you’re the only African-American in the class, especially at a young age. While counselors encourage black students to take harder classes, we don’t, because we know that our peers, particularly in our own race, will not follow. So by going to a HBCU, I know that there will be others just like me in my class and I won’t feel uncomfortable in any type of way.

The bad thing about going to a HBCU is trying to be unique. Even though I will feel comfortable the new environment, we’ll all look the same to the outside world.

Here at WJ, my preaching about black topics is heard because I’m seen as a leader as the president of the Black Student Union. Yet, at HBCU’s where the student body is made of predominantly strong black leaders like myself, I’ll just blend with the crowd. In order to stand out as a leader like I do at WJ, I’ll have to be unique and separate myself from the rest. And if I don’t succeed how will I amount to anything? How will an employer be able to find and notice me?

If I do go to a non-HBCU, I’ll have to challenge myself to work as hard as I can because there are generally more opportunities and higher expectations, as these schools tend to have larger student bodies and larger class sizes.

Also, if I go to a non-HBCU, I’ll have the ability to break down the stereotypical wall there is about African American people. I want to show that I can go above and beyond the expectations and standards given to me as a black man, but at the same time learn and prosper with those around me.

If I don’t go to an HBCU I may miss out on discovering new things about my culture and eventually take it and my race for granted.

You know what they say, “You don’t know what you have until it’s gone.” If I don’t go to a HBCU this famous saying will pertain to me. I’ll end up adapting to the environment, following the customs of others in the college and disregarding everything that I’ve stood for. And at the same time, I’ll be hurting myself by not respecting the traditions that I have grown up to love.

Now it’s March and I’m sitting, waiting for Bowie State University, a HBCU, and Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, a non-HBCU, to give me a response. For now at least, the decision is out of my hands. But in a few weeks, I’m going to have to make a choice that could change my life forever and have a profound impact on the person I will become.

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