Within the last two years, CAU has seen a 1,000+ increase in undergraduate student applications and admitted students, the Class of 2023 brought in 19,569 applications with only 48 percent of them being admitted to the institution.
Nine percent of African-American students nationwide attend HBCUs as of 2018, in correspondence with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. While this rate has remained stagnant since 2010, the reasoning behind a student’s choice to attend an HBCU over a PWI has remained the same for ages: racial tension.
The resurgence of HBCUs has greatly contributed to this increase all around as African-American students nationwide are flocking to Black institutions not only due to racial interest, but in part to the publicity by big name celebrities.
In April of 2018, Beyoncé took on the Coachella festival, as the first African-American woman to headline. Her “homecoming” themed performance centered highly around HBCU homecomings, including HBCU style band performance, majorette dancers, and mock greek step performances.
The consistent media coverage in homage to HBCUs, along with the success rates of HBCU alumni have all come together in the inspiration for tens of thousands of students to aspire to achieve admittance to any of the nation’s 101 HBCUs.
While this homage has greatly assisted a plethora of HBCUs in increased application and admittance rates, CAU in particular has moved up in national rankings in comparison to HBCUs and PWIs. The now #13 ranked HBCU and #293 (out of 4,000) ranked university is recognized for its most successful schools of Business and Mass Media Arts.
In the same light, “CAU is one of only two black private universities classified by the Carnegie Foundation for the advancement of teaching as a Doctoral Universities: Higher Research Activity,” according to U.S. News.
Clark Atlanta University, Sophomore Brandee Jones noted that the strongest reason behind choosing to attend an HBCU lies heavily in the fact that she attended a predominantly white private chatholic school in Macon, Ga. Throughout her four years in highschool, Jones experienced a series of challenges being a racial minority such as “being called the n-word [and] witnessed blacks be called porch monkeys, coons, welfare junkies, etc” by her white peers.
“I chose Clark because when I toured, I felt at home. I wanted so badly to be around people like ME. Who understood ME. Who did not question why black people did this and not that,” Jones said.
Outside of society driven racial unrest, student’s individual experiences within their racial identity result as a driving factor for attending an HBCU.
Often times, this can be a traumatic experience that drives feelings of isolation and uncertainty at what a predominantly white institutions may offer them. More times than not, HBCUs serve as one of the only times in which African-American students do not represent a minority.
However, Ariyana Griffin, third-year student, chose to attend CAU despite representing the racial majority at her high school in Inglewood, California.
“No one in my family really went to an HBCU so I was just going to go to a Cal State and call it a day. I had visited a few but honestly I felt out of place I wasn’t used to being the minority because I was only in schools that were mostly black,” Griffin stated.
Prior to his admittance at CAU, sophomore Jehan Patterson, attended a predominantly African-American highschool Homewood Flossmoor in the south suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. Despite Patterson representing the majority of the student body racially, he still struggled with his surrounding “racist white students and racist white teachers,” Patterson also noted that the majority of teachers throughout his matriculation were white.
Within his four-year experience at Homewood Flossmoor High School, Patterson also witnessed via social media, photos of members of the white student body “do blackface and never return to HF.” This, along with the uncomfortability he felt during college tours at PWIs, prompted Patterson to apply to and attend an HBCU.
Freshman Chasse Palmer is a Mass Media Arts Major from Charleston, SC. who came to CAU on the basis of the fact that "there are so many talented writers,directors, film makers and others who have graced these halls and [she] knew that [she] had to attend in order to be as big as them.”
With alumni along the likes of Black-ish creator Kenya Barris and Tennille Gibson, Emmy award winning journalist and editor, (just to name a couple) CAU Mass Media majors (as all the other students at the institution) have high ambitions to be the next big thing within their field, due to CAU’s legacy of greatness.