We watched CNN last week and heard an interesting statistic: 1/3 of all University of Phoenix online students are black. Due to this statistic one man decided to take the online experience a step further and create HBCUsOnline.com. (HBCUs are historically black colleges and universities.) The founder of this project is named Tom Joyner.
Watching the CNN interview, Joyner excitedly talked about his new ideas. The HBCUs Online experience brings all the community and atmosphere of an HBCU to students at home. It sounds like a good idea, but does it really work? For example, if you live in NJ and go to school online at Morehouse College, will you really feel the power of stepping onto the campus Dr. Martin Luther King attended? In all honesty, probably not.
Joyner’s idea is great. He is highly respected in the black community as well as the white community. His business model is excellent. He researched the statistics of the University of Phoenix and capitalized on them. He filled a void in online education. We do not doubt black students will utilize this service and University of Phoenix may lose some business.
The only flaw we find in Joyner’s thinking is he enthusiastically said on CNN that the online experience recreates “the yard” or the traditional, grass yard where black students congregate at HBCUs. There is a section on his site called “The Yard,” but we think it’s misleading to say it will literally recreate the feeling of being at Morehouse, Hampton, Spelman, etc. And the students, of course, know this.
But the online community will create another avenue for black students to receive a degree and this we applaud. According to another CNN education study, only 47 percent of black males graduate high school. Therefore, it is crucial for black students to receive resources such as HBCUs Online to move beyond high school and into the college, possibly online college, of their choice.
~ the WPC team