Is My Child Cut Out for an HBCU?

Ask Dr. Lomax: Mentors can help black students from white high schools ease into their new campus culture.


* Xavier University in New Orleans is the country’s only Catholic HBCU and could provide an excellent opportunity for your daughter to connect to her faith as an African-American Catholic. It has a diverse student body, including many Asian Americans. Xavier students pursue a wide range of majors, but it specializes in preparing students for careers in medicine and pharmacy.

* Spelman College in Atlanta and Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, N.C., are both women’s liberal arts colleges with fine academic reputations and a mission to help women develop both as students and as people.

* Howard University in Washington, D.C., and Hampton University in Virginia are larger than the three named above, and both are fine institutions with big-university environments.

* Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Jackson State University in Mississippi and North Carolina A&T in Greensboro (the same city as Bennett College; you could visit them both on one trip) are three of the best publicly supported HBCUs.

I’d leave you with this: HBCUs see smoothing the path for students like your daughter as part of their mission. There will be a lot of students making the same transition. And with the great variety of HBCUs — public and private, co-ed and single-sex, large and small — available, there’s a lot for you and your daughter to choose from.

Good luck. And after you make your choice, drop me a line through The Root and let me know what you decide.

Michael Lomax is president and CEO of United Negro College Fund. He is a contributing editor for The Root.

If you have any questions about the college experience, whether you are a student or a parent, please send them to Dr. Lomax at

The Root aims to foster and advance conversations about issues relevant to the black Diaspora by presenting a variety of opinions from all perspectives, whether or not those opinions are shared by our editorial staff.

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