Updated: Aug 9
Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) were created with the help of the Morrill Land-Grant Act of 1890 to educate freed slaves after the Civil War. Cheyney University was the first HBCU founded in 1837 in Pennsylvania. Historically black colleges and universities were the FIRST schools to provide an opportunity for African Americans to obtain higher education. Notable HBCU graduates include W.E.B Du Bois, Toni Morrison, Langston Hughes, Thurgood Marshall, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Katherine Johnson, Oprah Winfrey, Kamala Harris, and Michael Strahan. There are more than 100 HBCUs across the country, including public and private institutions that offer doctoral, master’s, bachelor’s and associate’s degree programs. Historically Black Colleges and Universities have played a major role in the growth and education of our ancestors and continue to play a major role in our community. Even to this day, due to the lower cost of attending HBCUs and their flexibility, HBCUs continue to meet the needs of low income and first-generation students regardless of ethnicity.
How to Write a HBCU Personal Statement
Before you start outlining your statement, ask yourself a few questions to get an idea of what you’ll need to include.
Your introduction needs to grab the reader’s attention at once. Remember that they are most likely staring at a pile of applications, and yours will be one of many they’ll read in this sitting. You need to be memorable right from the start. Follow this general form for a solid intro.
● HOOK: Grab the admissions officer’s attention with a broad, but strong statement that introduces your topic.
● LINE: Write two to three sentences that develop that idea and narrow it down to focus on you.
● SINKER: Deliver your thesis. This is where you state specifically why you want to study education at their school.
What should I mention in a HBCU personal statement?
Expand on the points you made in your thesis in the introduction paragraph. You should also try to do this in the order in which you presented the points, to achieve parallel structure. Do not turn this into a recitation of your resume. The body paragraphs are the heart of your personal statement and should contain deep discussion of the ideas you signaled to the reader that you would address, not simply a recap of your accomplishments.
In other words, the body paragraphs are where you get to tell your story. Why do you want to study a particular discipline? What inspires you? What type of professional do you see yourself becoming? How do your past experiences inspire you to continue on this path? Anecdotes are best, but don’t get carried away. Keep it concise and to the point.
Once you have explained who you are and what your professional goals will be, you might consider explaining why you think you are a good fit for that particular school. Hopefully you did some research before applying, and you have some concrete reasons for choosing this college. Tell them your reasons, but don’t go overboard with platitudes. They know what awards they have won and where they rank in the U.S. News college rankings. Be honest and explain what attracted you to their program of study and what you hope to get out of it.
In order to ensure the clarity of your work, each body paragraph should be formatted the same. This way the reader will be able to quickly read without losing track of the point. After the first body paragraph, begin each subsequent paragraph with a transition phrase or sentence, and then provide a clear topic sentence. Support that topic sentence with solid evidence. Finally, provide examples to back up that evidence.
How do I make my HBCU personal statement stand out?
Conclusions are hard, and they are hard for a reason. Ideally, you have made your case in the body of your personal statement, so you understandably ask yourself, “What else can I say?” Try one of these strategies:
● Widen the focus a bit and validate your thesis without being redundant.
● Project where you see yourself in 10 years after completing your degree and becoming a successful teacher.
● Reaffirm your passion for your subject area.
However you decide to close, do not fall back to your middle school days and simply restate your case in the conclusion. Take some time to craft a closing that will leave them with an overall positive impression.
Want more help with how to write an HBCU personal statement? Contact Wisdem USA. Our expert team is knowledgeable about the ins and outs of higher education, and will help you craft winning writing that positions you for success in HBCU college admissions.