This year Black students going into the 12th grade across the country will be deciding on which college to attend. A lot of important factors play into this decision including campus setting, class sizes, location, and of course, diversity. Many students are now struggling with choice of either attending a Predominately White Institution (PWI) or a Historically Black College or University (HBCU).

I am going to graduate this coming year from Pikesville High School in Baltimore and my peers and I often discuss the ramifications of each decision. Many believe that PWI’s lead to more opportunities and are regarded as more legitimate by graduate schools and corporations. However HBCU advocates argue that the environment is much more conducive to growth for Black students and the sense of community fostered in these schools is better for future networking. In addition, they say HBCU’s offer a better support system which can lead to more opportunities in the future.

Although college selection is difficult for everyone the PWI vs. HBCU quandary adds another level of difficulty to the decision making process for Black students. I personally feel conflicted about which type of school is best for me.

All Ivy League schools are PWI’s and wouldn’t it be better to graduate from a prestigious PWI than a lesser known HBCU? Financial Aid would be much easier to come by at a larger university than a smaller one and HBCU’s are usually much smaller than PWI’s, and a big name “White” school may help my entrance into graduate school.

However at a Black university I would receive an education geared towards me and geared towards helping me succeed in a world that may not always provide me with the same benefits as my White counterparts. Employers and large corporations often look to HBCU’s when they’re interested in hiring gifted, diverse, youth, and I would make connections with successful Black entrepreneurs and motivated students that would last for years to come. If more promising students decided to attend Black universities and colleges wouldn’t more funding and a better national reputation follow?

In addition to my personal struggle with making a decision about which type of school to attend, I also frequently have to endure the unwanted commentary of those around me. Family, friends and church members all feel the need to weigh in on my decision and offer up their “perfect solution”. “Our best kids need to attend Black schools so we can get more recognition.” “Don’t you want to give back to your community?” “Don’t you want to be around people who look like you?” Or, “A Black school will limit you.” “Don’t you want to go to a school that people actually know about?”

I still haven’t decided whether my dream school is predominately White or historically Black but I’ve come to the conclusion that it doesn’t really matter as long as the school is a good fit for me and the decision is made on my own.

Jannah Johnson was an intern in The Afro-American’s Baltimore office this summer. She is still trying to decide which college she will attend next Fall.