Ranking the Best HBCUs: Did Money and Essence Get It Right?
Filed in HBCUs on April 22, 2016
The magazines Money and Essence recently collaborated on a project to determine the best historically Black colleges and universities. The two magazines, both published by Time Inc., rated colleges on affordability, earnings potential of graduates, the percentage of Blacks in the student body, and academic quality, which was measured by student graduation rates.
Florida A&M University was rated as the best HBCU in the survey. Spelman College in Atlanta was second and North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro was third. Rounding out the top 10 HBCUs in this ranking are Hampton University in Virginia, Bowie State University in Maryland, Virginia State University, Xavier University of Louisiana, Howard University in Washington, D.C., Alcorn State University in Mississippi, and Jackson State University in Mississippi.
The rankings appear to be a bit simplistic. Obviously, state college and universities have an advantage in the affordability category. This is probably why Morehouse College, Fisk University, Tuskegee University and other private schools didn’t appear at the top of the list.
Rating “academic quality” simply by looking at graduation rates is also suspect. While graduation rates are important, other factors such as number and type of degree programs, faculty credentials, opportunities for research, quality of facilities, laboratories, and equipment and other factors should be considered. And it should be noted that Florida A&M University was rated the best HBCU in this survey. Yet its graduation rate is 39 percent.
Also, giving substantial weight to the percentage of Blacks in the student body may not be as important a factor as the other criteria. Yes, there are a few HBCUs where White students are now a majority, but they are the exception. And is it all that important in rating a school as “best” simply because it is 90 percent Black rather than 80 percent Black?
Also, other factors such as campus safety, geographic location, opportunities for study abroad, internship programs, athletics, extracurricular activities, alumni support, cultural resources, and a wide range of other factors should be considered in making a college choice.
What is “best” for one student may not be the “best” for another. So we applaud those HBCUs rated as “best” in this survey but urge potential students to dig a bit deeper to find the college that is best for them.