Things To Know Before Solidifying Your College Choice

College decision day is around the corner, and we’re here to assist

It’s that time of year! College Decision Day. Graduating seniors have an exciting opportunity to lock into whichever institution of higher learning they feel is best for them. If you’re still pondering choices or want to confirm you made the right decision– you are in the right spot.

We spoke to Black women who are currently students at colleges and universities across the country to offer their wisdom and expertise on solidifying the perfect school. If any questions arise, the lovely ladies have attached their social media handles; connect with them! 

Mikayla Weary

Name of College or University: Dillard University 

Major: Film

What should a black girl graduating high school look for when choosing a college? 

A Black girl pursuing college should consider how she will best be supported academically, mentally, and culturally. When I was in the spot of selecting a college, I made sure to ask the (real) questions necessary to secure my decision, whether it be via social media or a distant family member. You do not have to know what you want to do when entering your first year because that decision can be scary, but make sure that you look into the resources available to your desired major or area of study. Along with academic support, see if the college values mental health because college can be very anxiety-inducing. Knowing if the college has clubs and/ or resources that provide a low-stress environment and encourage self-care will be helpful. Lastly, I always encourage Black girls to attend Historically Black Colleges because the culture is unmatched, and a community is waiting for you!

What do you wish you knew before choosing a college? 

I wish I had contacted college students when showing interest in their university. When I arrived at my college, far from home, I felt like I was in a sea of strangers. It felt hard to adapt, even as someone social. Connecting with upper-level students upon arrival builds an incredible bond, which goes a long way when choosing a college. It is also beneficial to match a college’s personality to understand better where you fit in. You can contact students formally by requesting their email via social media or attending a college fair. Have some questions for them that allow for an honest opinion of their experience, and don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions!

What scholarship opportunities do you recommend readers look into? 

There are many scholarships to keep an eye out for. I would look into UNCF scholarships as well as local scholarships for your state/city. A great place to search is through websites and career platforms like LinkedIn.

Omotara Ibraheem

Name of College or University: Syracuse University 

Major: Biotechnology

What should a black girl graduating high school look for when choosing a college?

I would advise Black girls who are graduating high school to look out for colleges that genuinely prioritize their students’ well-being (more specifically for their students of color); they can do this by visiting the college and finding out what programs and resources are available to them on campus or by reaching out to a Black staff member at the university who would be willing to answer some of their questions. I would advise them to seek out information about the clubs, scholarships, and other opportunities available for them as Black students at their university. I would encourage them to consider attending an HBCU, and think about what that would look like for them. If they’ve decided that HBCU life isn’t for them, I would advise them to check the demographics for whatever schools they’re interested in to see how many Black students and other students of color attend the university (this will help gauge expectations as to what campus life may look like for them in terms of diversity & culture). 

What do you wish you knew before choosing a college? 

I wish I knew more about the scholarship and mentorship opportunities available for me at my university. Being that my single mother of 3 is the one paying for my undergraduate degree as well as my sisters, I wish I did more research and was more aware of the programs that were available to support my family financially while I work toward my degree. 

What scholarship opportunities do you record readers look into? 

HEOP (for students from NY state), POSEE, NICHE, QuestBridge, Coca-cola, Gilman Scholarship program, the Gates scholarship, & Smart Owl 

Dede Stewart

Name of College or University: University of Washington-Bothell

Major: Psychology and Media Communication Studies

What should a black girl graduating high school look for when choosing a college?  

I believe a Black girl should look for a place where she can thrive and build her own community. I would advise her to go to a place where she can see herself excelling and cultivating meaningful friendships. College can get very lonely, so she should be in a place with a community that comforts her. I would tell her to look for a school with clubs that she would like to be a part of because clubs are just as important as the educational aspect of college life. I would tell her to never settle on a university, because these are the next four years of her life, and she deserves to be at a place that becomes “her home away from home.”

What do you wish you knew before choosing a college? 

I wish I knew more about who I was and the environment I thrived in. When I was a senior in high school, I thought I was supposed to go to a large school with thousands of students. I toured the school that I attend now, and I thought I should not go there because it was a very small commuter school. I ended up going to a large university with over 20,000 students after graduation, but I transferred because I was so unhappy. I think the advice that I would give is to follow your heart and not what others say, we are all different and what works for some might not work for others.

What scholarship opportunities do you recommend readers look into? 

GrowingwithGabby on Tiktok posts a lot of scholarship opportunities for Black women, so you should definitely check her page out!

 Zaniya Battle

Name of College or University: Kennesaw State University

Major: Journalism and Emerging Media

What should a black girl graduating high school look for when choosing a college?

I think it’s important to look for a college that meets the lifestyle and environment that’s best for you. I was constantly told to pick an HBCU or go to the biggest college in my state, but none of that fit the experience I was looking for. I did my own research on school resources and took tours to find a university that met my needs. I recommend that when you take tours, you not just pay attention to the school and the tour guide, but the students going to that institution. See how they interact with each other and what daily life on the campus looks like. 

What do you wish you knew before choosing a college?

I wish I knew what I was looking for in college. Even though I applied to multiple places, I chose the first college that gave me an acceptance letter. It worked out for me in the long run, but if I had done more research on social life and the class setup for other schools, I could have ended up at a completely different school.

What scholarship opportunities do you recommend readers look into?

Always look into the scholarships that your school offers. Also, search for scholarships for your major, hobbies, family dynamic, and race. There are scholarships for anything under the sun; it just takes being proactive, finding and applying for them.

Brittany Hall

Name of College or University: University of Maryland Eastern Shore

Major: English

What should a black girl graduating high school look for when choosing a college?

Black girls should look for what the school offers for their aspirations and dreams- things they may want to do in the future. Never base it off of friends or what it may look like from the appearance. Always base it on how it can improve you spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and career-wise. 

What do you wish you knew before choosing a college?

One thing I wish I had known before attending college is how important networking is. As a Freshman, I was in my bubble; starting my Junior year, I did an entire production. There, I gained so many people who are by my side to help me reach my goals and complete my visions. I encourage you all to be open and never stay inside your shell. Be who you are, and the right people will gravitate toward you. 

What scholarship opportunities do you recommend readers look into?

Creative scholarships! If you are a writer, artist, or singer, there are plenty of creative scholarships you can apply for. Showing off your gifts and talents can help you get into many schools. People say many things about what they can do, but show the school this is your gift! Leadership and academic scholarships are also very important to try and apply for.

About the author: Shelby Denise Smith is a full-time Social Media Editor and part-time Freelance Writer. She loves writing about news, wellness, and beauty and hosting impactful conversations with influencers and experts on those subjects.

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