Graduate school decisions not black and white

Many students attend Florida A&M University in hopes of receiving a bachelor’s degree, but after graduation some students say attending graduate school at a predominately white institution may be a better option.

Yvonne Bell, associate professor of psychology said there are numerous reasons why students may attend non-HBCUs for their masters or doctorate.

“It could be the financial reason for the student. They have more money to offer you,” Bell said. “Some students may [go] to experience what it’s like to experience an historically white institution. Some have internalized that white schools are better than black schools and since I’m obtaining a higher degree, I’ll go to a white institution.”

Bell said that many students feel that they will relate to their employer if they attend a predominately white institution for a post-undergraduate education.

“Some believe that their chances of getting a job is better,” Bell said. “It’s not where you graduate from, it’s if your employer [is] racist. I think it is what we internalized from living through racism.”

Ifeakandu Okoye, an Economics professor at FAMU, disagrees with Bell.

Okoye said some schools may look better on your resume if you attend.

“The school you go to may impact [you] whether you’re black or white,” Okoye said. “The chance of getting a job transcends all races.”

In addition to increasing job opportunities, some students said attending a non-HBCU will make them well-rounded individuals.

Courtney Quary, 23, a graduate psychology student from Lakeland said she was considering Florida State University for graduate studies.

“I was thinking about going to another school. The only reason was to show diversity on my resume, ” Quary said.

Ceasar Douglas, professor of management at FSU agrees with Quary that some students may go to schools that are not HBCUs because of the lack of diversity. He said that this can be an advantage for students in the real world.

“When you think about placement after graduation, a lot is due on your dissertation,” Douglas said. “Folks getting their doctorate at an historically black college will historically teach at a historically black college.”

Okoye said students can look to leaders in the community, who went to HBCUs in undergrad and obtained higher degrees from non-HBCUs for examples of diversity.

“The president from here, Dr. Ammons, has gone to FSU,” Okoye said. “I tell people from the beginning to start with a predominantly black school because those are the people that will understand you.”

For Brandon McKoy, the decision to attend a non-HBCU should be based on course offerings.

“It’s hard to get all the credentials you need to go to HBCU’s [for psychology],” said McKoy, 22, a graduate psychology student from Charlotte. “There’s no other HBCU that offers the psychology Ph.D. program. We offer it and Howard offers it.”

For others, the lack of financial assistance plays a role in the school they attend.

“I have more money at Florida A&M than I would have at a bigger school like FSU,” said Justin Delancy, 21, a senior criminal justice student from Stettend, Fla. “If I was going to attend a master program, I would attend Florida A&M.”

Okoyo said it does not matter which college a black student attends for graduate studies because black students have to overcome obstacles.

“For you [black students] to prove yourself, you have to work twice as hard as the white person,” Okoyo said. “FAMU is preparing students for anywhere adequately.”