Helping Black families navigate the college application process is the motivation behind Shereem Herndon-Brown, the chief education officer and founder of Strategic Admissions Advice, and Timothy Fields, senior associate dean of undergraduate admission at Emory University, writing “The Black Family’s Guide to College Admissions,” published in September. In The Black Family’s Guide to College Admissions, Fields and Herndon-Brown share provocative insights and demystify this complex process to answer important questions from where to apply to how to get in.
Both worked in college admissions at both HBCU’s and other Institutions, so they’ve been able to “see both sides of the fence.”
“We have information in our heads that we need to share with people: Black families, Black students, White counselors who are working with Black students, and people who care.”SHEREEM HERNDON-BROWN SAID.
Educational expertise is certainly needed in this day and ago. As we still try to determine trends the pandemic had on college enrollment, one is being made more clear: there is a continued dramatic decline in enrollment from Black, first-generation, and low-income students, according to a National Student Clearinghouse report published in May.
While Asian and Latinx freshmen numbers grew across the country in spring 2022, the number of Black freshmen declined by 6.5 percent, or 2,600 students, the report found. This means that, since spring 2020, there is a decline of 19 percent, or 8,400 fewer Black freshmen in higher education. And early decision deadlines are coming up on November 1 for schools taking the Common App, with regular decision applications due in early 2023. That means getting college application resources and support to Black high school students and their families is a top priority.
“All we want to do is get this message out to people who care about the next generation of Black students. We want to make sure that they understand the choices along the way, ” Herndon-Brown tells Word in Black.
“The biggest thing readers can expect is an introduction to many aspects of the college admission process. We divided the book up into three primary parts. The first part is where we established the place in time we are at in this country with a renaissance of HBCUs. What is going on as far as Black families as they think about this process? Where are they placing their children to go to school? What are the choices that they have? And then also thinking about the college admission process, what questions they should be asking early on. The context sets the foundation,” says co-author Timothy Fields to Word in Black.
The second part we move on to X-factors. And that is really looking at what are some of the pieces of the puzzle that have changed since many of the families applied, thinking about financial aid, if your child is an athlete or artist, or has some special talent, having a conversation about liberal arts, and job preparation. I took the lead on that, reading applications, what things stood out, how students and families can position themselves, and what they should be thinking in the process.
And the final part is the process. When should you apply? What should you put in your application and essaid? We talked about this current test-optional world. What does that mean? What are some of the things you should be looking for on campus?
And then we wanted to provide a resource guide. So there’s several colleges or universities throughout — both HBCUs and PWIs. We have a listing of over 80 prominent Black college graduates and where they went to school so that people have reference points. As we think about what success looks like in this process, we wanted to put names and institutions along with that so people can really see themselves at all these various institutions.
This article was originally published in Word in Black.