In the January, 1999 edition of Black Enterprise magazine the editors published their list of the "Top 50 Colleges for African-Americans."

The Black Enterprise top-ten college picks, including all colleges, were:

1) Spelman College
2) Morehouse College
3) Florida A & M University
4) Clark Atlanta University
5) Howard University
6) Xavier University
7) Hampton University
8) Tuskegee University
9) North Carolina A&T University
10) Stanford University


In the Spring, 1996 edition of our newsletter Black Excel News (Vol. 3, No. 1-2), we picked our top ten Historically Black Colleges. We did not place our picks in any particular ranking order, but our ten picks are essentially the same as Black Enterprise's. The difference is that Black Enterprise picked Stanford in the #10 spot. We included Fisk University in our grouping. Note: we were only ranking HBCU's.

The following excerpt is from the Black Excel newsletter as it appeared in 1996:

                                 BLACK EXCEL'S

The following ten-best list is not in any specific order. There are, of course, other strong and commendable Black schools (see the Morgan State profile on this Web page, for example). Other schools may be (and are) better suited for many students! NOTE: We welcome other opinions.


Spelman is corralling a majority of our top female students, and is undoubtedly one of our highest-ranking schools. Spelman's entering freshmen are intelligent, bringing academic and extra-curricular records of achievement to the board. Usually their records cause some of the most prestigious schools (Stanford, Wellesley, Smith, the Ivy League) to express interest. SAT's are in the 1000 range, and B-plus averages in high school honors classes are the rule rather than the exception. 70% of Spelman's students graduate, and you are going to be hearing about many of them after they get through law, medical, business, and other graduate programs. Spelman confers about 383 undergraduate degrees annually.


Morehouse, like Spelman, is blazing a trail by corralling large numbers of our most gifted students. Somebody should do a study to figure out how these students were raised, motivated, and learned to achieve. If our young males are an "endangered species," what shaped these stars? And how? The Morehouse men average well over 1000 on their SAT's and have the kinds of GPA and academic records their sisters at Spelman present. At Morehouse, it's another very competitive admissions situation. Over 40% of Morehouse's graduates pursue graduate and professional studies. More than 339 undergraduate degrees are conferred yearly.


More students over the last few years have applied to Hampton than to any of the other Historically Black Colleges. For example, in 1993, Hampton received more applications than Howard (7,500 to 5600) and Florida A&M, to name just two schools. Hampton is the school "by the water," and students/parents are finding its Virginia location more desirous than schools that are cited next to areas that are perceived as unsafe. Hampton does intense screening (turning away over 50% of its applicants), and is clearly searching for a student body that includes achievers who are well-prepared academically and socially. The median SAT of 950+ says a lot. With an endowment of more than $84 million, Hampton is also one of our richest schools. The school usually confers about 848 undergraduate degrees yearly. In 1992, Hampton students won an engineering design competition sponsored by Walt Disney.


Florida A&M has more Black National Merit scholars on campus than Harvard. The school routinely tries to recruit the best students for its high-standing Wharton School of Business. With a combined average SAT of about 920, Florida A&M turns away about 4 of every 10 applicants. Large numbers of students go on to graduate school. A bold "first" for a Black School is their student/teacher exchange with universities in China. A&M is a big school, with lots of social activities, Greeks, and a sensational marching band. This state-supported school confers about 586 undergraduate degrees yearly.


Fisk is still Fisk. Located in Tennessee, it's still small (about 900 students), but remains committed to educating our children. The school attracts a national student body. The average SAT is 880+, and the school expects its students to enter with adequate preparation, preferably college-prep courses. Nearly 36% of the freshmen are in the top 25% of their high school classes. Over 50% of graduates continue their education, with nearly 20% entering medical school, 10% choosing law, and 30% headed to other disciplines. If you are looking for a rah-rah atmosphere you might miss it here, since there's no intercollegiate sports on the 40-acre campus. Still, there's a "sense of community." The school confers about 134 undergraduate degrees yearly. Fisk has also been considered a "best buy" among colleges for quality and cost. In 1987, Bill Cosby gave the school $1.3 million. Fisk is the alma mater of W.E.B DuBois.


At Alabama's Tuskegee there's always talk about its "great tradition." Tuskegee attracts students from across the country who aspire to achieve. The great Booker T. Washington got the ball rolling. Professional and technical majors are foremost at this school which makes its mission clear. You are there to be somebody, and you leave with a strong foundation. There's pre-med, dentistry, engineering, and computer sciences. Summer internships are available at places like IBM and AT&T, and their Access to Research Careers Program can place you in a laboratory, doing research. Nearly 70% of the students get their degrees. Competitive admissions, with average SAT's in the 900 range. Tuskegee confers about 377 undergraduate degrees annually, with about 22% of these students going on to graduate/professional schools.


Howard has been called the "Black Harvard." In the last several years, however, other Historically Black schools have seemed to steal Howard's recruiting thunder. D.C. had been getting bad press, and there's a carryover that undoubtedly is not helping the school. Howard, however, continues to prepare and send impressive numbers of students to business, law, medical, and other professional and graduate schools (about 65%).

Without question, Howard continues to get the job done, with a rainbow of majors and degrees to the Ph.D. level. In recent years there has been talk of raising standards, revamping programs, obviously with an eye to returning to the days when it was the undisputed "top Black college." Howard confers about 1384 undergraduate degrees yearly.


Xavier has been getting excellent press about its health-related programs, including its phenomenal record of getting its students into medical and dental schools (18%). From 1989 to 1991, Xavier toped Harvard, Morehouse, and Spelman. Xavier's is a model program of support that should be emulated across the country. The school's combined SAT score is about 900, but it will give a student a "second chance," accepting many. An impressive number of students go on to graduate school (36%), and its clear that there is caring and concern ingrained in the school's approach to things. Approx. 311 undergraduate degrees are conferred annually.


In 1993, NCAT was awarded an $8 million grant to establish an aerospace research center. This grant is typical of the kind of attention this "comprehensive" university (with its engineering and science emphasis) attracts. Jesse Jackson's school is very popular, too, with its students. They sense that they are getting a quality education, and that all things are possible. There is a Freshman Advisement Center, an African Heritage Center, and commendable Summer Scholars Programs for gifted students with potential from the high schools. Over 100 student organizations, including Greek groups, are available. NCAT clearly is moving forward, aiming to meet our needs. Education is an important major at this state-supported university. Approx. 700 undergraduate degrees are conferred yearly.


In recent years, Clark-Atlanta's popularity has been meteoric. Whereas the school used to be an "easy admit," only 55% of applicants are now accepted. Of course, CA is one of the of schools in the Atlanta University Center, including Spelman, Morehouse, and Morris Brown. In a recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, there was a telling article entitled: "The Remarkable Rise of Clark-Atlanta." In recent years the school has gotten many deserved federal grants and appears prime for growth in many areas. Students/applicants are looking to Clark-Atlanta as a possible entry school at a soaring rate. In 1996, the school probably had 9,000 applications, more than Spelman and Morehouse combined. CA confers about 600 undergraduate degrees yearly.


During the last ten years, Black Excel has discussed nearly every Historically Black college with students and their families. The preceding list of "ten best schools" should be viewed simply as a "starter" or general guide. Never once when we discuss college choices have we focused solely on the top schools. Needless to say, no single expert or group can tell you everything you need to know to reach your ultimate college list. Visit schools if you can. Gather resource materials. Always, some institutions will be more suitable to a particular student's needs and personality than others.

You might consider Lincoln, Morgan State, the University of Maryland at Eastern Shore, North Carolina Central or A&T. You might discuss Bennett, Virginia State or Union, Grambling, Praire View A&M, Cheyney of Pennsylvania, Johnson C. Smith, Savannah or South Carolina State. And there are other schools where we're seen students fare well. Only after you have focused on a particular student's needs (goals, capabilities, strengths, shortcomings), does a list come alive with possibilities.


Does the student need nurturing or close attention? Does the student need a "second chance"? Does the student want a rural environment or an urban one? Is a special program required? Is there a specific goal? Does the student want to be in a pressure-packed, very competitive, or relaxed environment? What kind of climate matters? How about school size? Greeks? Sports? Dating? Food? And lastly: Cost?

--Isaac Black, Black Excel, 1996