50 Best Colleges for African Americans

Attending college is a rebirth of sorts. You’re smart, ambitious, young, and for the first time in your life, you get to do things your way. Heather Booker’s chapter in her family’s

Hampton University story began when she was 6 months old. She bounced on the knee of her great-grandpa as he and the school’s alumni association members made grand plans for the thriving university, such as erecting a statue of Booker T. Washington, still a centerpiece of the campus.

Booker, 20, has since gotten to know the campus more intimately as a student. She hails from a long line of Hampton graduates that includes her parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. Her grandmother, Deloris Bryant-Booker, is a director of grant development for Fulton County Schools in Atlanta, while her grandfather, James Avery Booker Jr., is a retired trauma surgeon and colonel in the Air Force. In fact, she practically grew up on the campus with her mother, Dr. Karla Booker, an OB-GYN.

“I went [to Hampton] because these people have such love for the school,” says Booker, referring to the network of support from professors and alumni that exists for students. “I wanted to be in a place where I was more than just a number. The experience of being at a black school offered me a foundation of history, resources, and examples of who I wanted to become.”

As the senior prepares for graduation, she remains focused on keeping up her 3.5 GPA (as a Presidential Scholar); chairing the women’s caucus; and taking an active role in Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, which she pledged last spring. “Being involved in different associations, you never know who you’re going to meet. It’s a chance to find students that are on the same track as you, and most important, it’s an opportunity to be an example for someone else.”

In addition to getting to know students like Booker, BLACK ENTERPRISE will show you what it takes to get the most out of your college years. We’ve developed a year-by-year strategy, from your freshman through senior years, that is chock-full of expert advice on how to make a smooth transition from college life to the professional world. Each subject has completed the year in which he or she appears.

We’ve also included our exclusive ranking of the 50 Best Colleges for African Americans for your social and academic needs. There are few surprises on this year’s list. The University of Chicago is the lone newcomer, mostly because of its increase in black student graduation rates. (For more information on how we crunched the numbers, see the methodology.)

It’s up to you to choose the school that’s best for you. This ready reference is designed to keep you on point during your college years.

MARCIE GRAHAM, New York University, Metropolitanb Studies, Freshman Year
Since most of her family went to historically black colleges and universities, everyone thought Marcie Graham would attend one, too. Yet in September of 2003, the rising sophomore landed right in the heart of the Big Apple as a metropolitan