Thinking About College as a Black Kid

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As I’m coming up on the midpoint of my junior year, a lot of things have changed since I entered into highschool. I’ve gotten a little taller, I can drive now, I’ve met some really cool people,  and I’ve had more tests and quizzes than I can count. But the one thing that’s changed that is currently on my mind, is my mindset. I say this because in 9th grade I was focused on having fun, making friends, and dealing with the insane workload that I acquired. But as I move into the later part of 11th grade, I’m adding one more thing: the future. When talking about the future, I’m thinking about what I truly want to do when I leave this place, and what really makes me happy. And the magical place that helps me answer these questions, is none other than college.

Now what I just said is what’s on any other teenager’s mind right about now, for college is definitely something that needs to be contemplated when looking at the rest of your life. Does this university have this major? How’s the social life at the university? What will a diploma from this college say about me? I can’t speak for all current students in highschool, but these questions are constantly in question. And without a doubt, there are different questions and more questions when the student in question is African American. In order to avoid generalizations, I’ll just speak for myself.

To start, there always the standard questions that come with speculating a college for the first time. These things are usually based on interests, how much the college is, closeness to home, and other things. But as a black kid, I also have to think about the racial makeup of the school. Speaking from experience, when you are one of the only black kids at a super white school, things happen that you don’t want to happen. You start letting slick racism slide, you change a little every now and then to fit in, and ultimately you start to become less and less like the person you were before. It’s bad. So as a survivor of a mini PWI, I don’t think I could deal with 4 years at a place just like that. I’m pretty sure white people don’t think of that.

Following this, there’s the community outside of the school. Whether it’s Atlanta, Los Angeles, Raleigh, or anywhere, the city outside of the university really means something. Basically, I don’t think I could spend 4 years in the middle of Mississippi (which happens to be the  2nd most racist state in the world with 11 KKK organizations. I’m not bashing Mississippi, but there’s a lot of other places). I honestly don’t care if I get a super scholarship to Ole Miss for having two eyes or something, I just can’t do it.

So after hearing all of this, you think there would be an easy and clear solution, right? A predominantly black college with a cool area around it….sounds like a lot of HBCUs! Whether it’s Morehouse or Howard or Florida A&M, these are all good choices for me to go. Problem solved. Goodbye.

 

But not really.

 

HBCUs are all great, but there’s one common trait among them that is a problem : America. Now don’t get me wrong, all HBCUs looks and sound like an amazing choice. But recently I’ve decided that my problem isn’t necessarily the specific places in the U.S that hold these universities, but the U.S as a whole. Whether it’s the police, politicians, or yet another mass shooting, the United States is looking pretty shaky.  After my trip to London two summers ago, things have really opened up for me. The world is really really really big, and why should I limit myself? There’s Nigeria, Spain, London, South Africa, Singapore, and whole lot more to choose from right? From the sound of it, I should be whipping out my passport and looking all across the globe. But that’s where the dilemma comes in. With family in one place, as well as a culture that I’ve grown accustomed to, should I really take that long plane ride across an ocean? I mean, Howard is still a really cool college in the heart of D.C. , and if I go to Morehouse, I got all my family around the corner. And I’ve barely even been to the west coast!  Is it a punk move to just pack up and go when things look a little rough? Honestly, I don’t know.

So at this current moment, I’m at a little bit of a loss. There are pros and cons for both sides, and I feel like I’ll be weighing them until I make my final decision. But I do feel like I’m not alone, for there has to be more kids like me who have to make this choice: should I stay home where it’s iffy, or should i take the leap where it’s a mystery?  Hopefully I’ll choose before time runs out.

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