WASHINGTON, D.C. — Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in the U.S. are battling a number of challenges, including declining enrollment numbers and lower-than-average graduation and retention rates. Despite these challenges, a new Gallup study reveals that black graduates of HBCUs are more likely than black graduates of other institutions to be thriving — strong, consistent and progressing — in a number of areas of their lives, particularly in their financial and purpose well-being.
These findings are among those featured in the new Gallup-USA Funds Minority College Graduates Report. This report is based on the results from Gallup-Purdue Index studies in 2014 and 2015 with 55,812 college graduates aged 18 and older, with Internet access, who received bachelor’s degrees between 1940 and 2015. The study included 520 black graduates of HBCUs and 1,758 black graduates of other colleges. These results are based on a Gallup model that accounts for factors such as decade of graduation, student loan debt and parents’ education.
The thriving gap between black graduates of HBCUs and black graduates of other schools is largest in financial well-being, which gauges how effectively people are managing their economic lives to reduce stress and increase security. Four in 10 black HBCU graduates (40%) are thriving in this area, compared with fewer than three in 10 (29%) black graduates of other schools.
Of the five elements of well-being that Gallup measures, black graduates of HBCUs are most likely to be thriving in social (54%) and purpose (51%) well-being, which means the majority of them have strong social relationships and they like what they do each day and are motivated to achieve goals. While statistically similar percentages of black HBCU graduates and black non-HBCU graduates are thriving in social well-being, HBCU graduates lead non-HBCU graduates in purpose well-being — less than half of non-HBCU graduates (43%) are thriving in this area.
College Experiences Linked to Thriving After College
Black graduates of HBCUs are more likely than black graduates of other colleges to strongly agree they had the support and experiential learning opportunities in college that Gallup finds are strongly related to graduates’ well-being later in life. In turn, these experiences may also contribute to black HBCU graduates being more likely to strongly agree that their colleges prepared them for life after graduation (55%) than black graduates of other institutions (29%).
More than one in three black HBCU graduates (35%) strongly agree that they had a professor who cared about them as a person, a professor who made them excited about learning and a mentor who encouraged them to pursue their goals and dreams; only 12% of black non-HBCU graduates strongly agree they had all three experiences.
In fact, black graduates of HBCUs are more likely to strongly agree they had each of these experiences, with the gap between HBCU and non-HBCU black graduates widest when recalling having professors who cared about them as people (58% vs. 25%).
A similar positive relationship exists with experiential learning opportunities — black graduates of HBCUs are more likely to report involvement in applied internships, long-term projects and extracurricular activities. read more