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Currently, there are over 4000 institutions of higher learning in America, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU). Students, therefore, have a broad range of choices as to which institution they want to attend for their degree. According to the Black College and University Act, Historically Black Colleges and
Universities have been defined as those founded before 1964 to exclusively educate black students. The universities have a distinctive culture.
Of late, HCBUs have experienced a surge in enrollment numbers. One research reveals that this fall, several universities reported a staggering increase in the number of students joining the institutions.
Shaw University reported a whopping 49% jump in freshman enrollment, while South Carolina State University experienced a 39% rise in the number of students joining them at the freshman level.
Other HCBUs that reported an increase in freshman enrollment include Tuskegee University (32%), Virginia State University (30%) and Dillard University (22%). Given this sudden boom in the number of students enrolling at HCBUs, it is important to put measures in place to ensure a high retention rate while offering quality education. This can be achieved through the following:
Improving the Infrastructure:
To enhance academic programs and boost research, Historically Black Colleges and Universities must invest in infrastructure. The environment of HBCUs must be one that fosters education for the students, faculty, and staff.
Modern facilities and equipment must be made available for successful day to day operations. Libraries, laboratories and lecture halls must be adequately equipped and maintained. The HBCUs should take advantage of technology and come up with creative ways to enhance instructional delivery and assessment.
How to Provide a Competitive and Relevant Curriculum:
The curriculum offered at Historically Black Colleges and Universities must be one that prepares students for the current job market. The institutions need to come up with programs that enable the learners to function well both professionally and socially in a fast changing world.
Also, the mode of instruction delivery should be diversified to meet the needs of the learners. Currently, there is an increase in the trend towards offering online courses and Historically Black Colleges and Universities should take advantage of this trend to increase their reach and attract more students.
Moreover, the institutions need to lay strong foundations for offering advanced courses. Traditionally HBCUs have lacked the capacity to provide doctoral courses in some fields, particularly in the area of technology.
Historically Black Colleges and Universities should look for ways to develop abilities and start offering these programs so as to remain competitive in the educational sector.
With the shifting changes in the demographic composition of America, Historically Black Colleges and Universities must expand inclusiveness to foster the enrollment of students from diverse backgrounds.
HBCUs need to encourage the enrollment of Latinos, Chinese students, Arabians, Indians and students from other origins. This rich ethnic background is beneficial to both the institution and the millennials as it makes for a richer learning experience. The schools benefit in that they can serve more students.
To accommodate the needs of students from other cultures, Historically Black Colleges and Universities should invest in promoting the offering of some its courses in other languages besides English. Such languages include Chinese, Arabic, and German among others.
Fostering of Research Capacity:
For an institution of higher learning to remain competitive and relevant, it must support continuous research. Research enriches knowledge and complements teaching. HBCUs need to secure funding to foster research into how existing problems in the society may be addressed.
The colleges need to construct research facilities that have modern equipment and hire staff that has the required skills and experience to teach the students. To get the best lecturers, Historically Black Colleges and Universities should be prepared to offer competitive salaries and working terms.
Diversification of Learning Styles:
Millennial students learn differently as compared to students in other generations. Historically black colleges and universities should adapt their mode of delivery to suit the needs of their students.
As learning needs to be learner-centered, faculty must align their teaching to the ever changing needs of Millennials and keep them engaged in the learning process. HBCUs must be committed to investing in professional development and optimize learning for the students.
Enhancement Student Retention and Graduation Rates:
Even with the sudden rise in freshman enrollment over the recent years, many Historically Black Colleges and Universities continue to post low retention rates. With low retention comes a low graduation rate. HBCUs must find ways to minimize this low retention rate and increase their expectations for student success and graduation.
Measures should be put in place to ensure that millennials achieve high grades and are properly equipped for the job market. HBCUs should provide scholarships to students who are willing to continue with learning but are unable to do so due to financial constraints.
The Existence of Robust Governance:
Historically Black Colleges and Universities need to put in place a visionary and influential board of trustees who can guide the institution to a great future. Although they should not be directly involved in managerial activities of the school, these boards of trustees must consistently ensure that the president, chancellor or principal offers effective leadership for the overall success of the institution. The board has to make sure that students are receiving an education that is relevant, responsive and competitive.
Early Succession Planning:
To ensure the provision of excellent services to millennials, Historically Black Colleges and Universities must develop ways to attract and retain talented and experienced faculty. Millennials want lecturers who engage them through teaching and mentorship.
They want to know that their lecturers are in touch with their needs and can offer reliable guidance and support when needed. The institution must, therefore, plan early in advance when current members of staff are about to leave the institution and identify suitable replacements so that learners do not lose when members of staff leave the University. This helps maintain the legacy of the school.
Historically Black Colleges and Universities have a significant role to play in the education of millennials in America today. To ensure they continue to offer excellent services to the societies around them, HBCUs need to tailor their programs and instruction methods to the ever changing needs of the millennials they serve.