Study Finds That HBCUs Get Shortchanged in Traditional College Rankings

A new study led by Precious M. Hardy, a doctoral student in educational psychology at the University of Missouri, notes that historically Black colleges and universities usually do not fare well in national rankings of the best colleges and universities. But these ranking are often based on factors such as retention and graduation rates, acceptance rates, test scores of admitted students, and alumni giving rates. In short, the deck is stacked against Black colleges and universities.

This new study compared student outcomes at historically Black colleges and universities and predominantly white institutions while statistically controlling for socioeconomic status. The results showed that when comparing students from similar socioeconomic backgrounds, HBCUs outperformed predominantly WHite institutions on retention rates and salaries of graduates and had equal success in graduating their students.

The authors state that their results “suggest that HBCUs serve a higher proportion of low-income students than PWIs, which can affect the public perception of their performance. HBCUs would benefit from emphasizing their demonstrated success in promoting social mobility of students.”

Hardy is on track to earn her Ph.D. in 2021. She is a graduate of Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri, where she majored in psychology.

The full study, “Below the Surface: HBCU Performance, Social Mobility, and College Ranking,” was published in the Journal of Black Studies. It may be accessed here.

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