Why This FAMU Freshman Chose an HBCU Over Harvard

Ralph Jones Jr., a brilliant 16-year-old who had his pick of colleges and chose Florida A&M University, chatted with The Root about why he went with a historically black school over an Ivy League, and the negative attention he's getting for his decision.

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Questions have abounded in recent years over the relevance of HBCUs, but Jones said that he believes these schools are still very valuable for students looking for a specific type of college atmosphere and learning environment.

"Everyone knows why HBCUs were founded, because of racial segregation and how African Americans couldn't attend mainstream institutions," he said. "Now that things have been righted and it is a possibility -- I can attest to that -- I think HBCUs are valuable now more so for the experience.

"I believe Florida A&M is unlike any other college in the world just because of the HBCU experience here: the step shows, the band, the night life. It's all unique," Jones continued. "When it comes down to it, the family feeling -- I didn't feel that at other institutions, because I visited a lot of schools. And this is the only one [where] I felt like I was part of something larger."

Lauren Williams is The Root's associate editor.

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