Two years ago, I embarked on a journey of seeking high education. At the time, I was stuck between musical theater or any other aspect in the performing arts to critically study at the college level. Many nights in 2015, my parents fussed at me to choose a major that was practical and could get me a nine to five job with a guaranteed check.
I took their words into consideration when determining my future.
So, when I went back to the drawing board to find a more practical major, I knew that anything related to science was out of the question. I also knew that I didn’t want to be a teacher. So, education was out. However, I knew I liked to read and of course tell stories. Therefore, I set my heart on Mass Communication.
Now, deciding which school to attend was another challenging factor. My low-middle class family did not have the resources to help me pay for college. Therefore, my only choice was to stay in state. At the time, TOPS had enough funding to help students like myself pay for a certain portion of school. Therefore, I applied to all in-state schools located near New Orleans. The cheaper, the better.
As an African American, I had an advantage in some schools that needed a little more “color”, which was why Loyola University became one of my options. In my heart, I believed that this was the school for me. I could major in Mass Comm and minor in Theater. I was set to go to Loyola. However, they didn’t offer me the money that I needed. Attending Loyola would have put me in major debt. I would have owed the school $20,000 a year.
So, my mother said, “Look at Xavier”. Now, my older sister went to Xavier University of Louisiana. I was never a big fan of the school because it didn’t seem like a real university.
Also, this is embarrassing to confess, but it was too many black people.
I was scared to enroll in the university because all my life, I went to PWI Institutions. I was not sure if it was right for me. I had never gone to a school where majority of the people looked like me.
However, I applied. With my 4.0 GPA and an ACT score of a 25, I had a full ride. Honestly, I had no choice but, to accept.
Now, I must add that my twin brother was also accepted to Xavier. Going to the same school with him freshman year had its perks and challenges. It was easier for my brother, who went to a historically black catholic school, to find friends. For me, it took a while. And I mean a while. My freshman year was rocky. I was working and interning, so I had no life on campus. However it was not until my sophomore year, that I truly began to appreciate my HBCU.
2. It’s empowering to go to a school where everyone is trying to make it. We go through the same issues of life.
My college experience would not have been the same if I went to a PWI. Here, I can accept that, I am not the average black chick, but I am who I am. I’m growing and learning to be a woman who is not trying to put on a persona to fit in. Here, I am learning to be a professional black woman in a competitive market. I could not have developed these skills, had I gone to Loyola.
Now Cast, if you’re in the position of figuring out what university is best for you, talk to your college counselor or someone who you trust who knows you well. During my process, Jennie Guidry, my college counselor at New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, helped my classmates and I make our big decisions. Guidry says discovering the best school for you is a combination of factors. “It would be what is the best fit for you, but it also comes down to finances,” she said.
Guidry’s advice to any students embarking on their college journey is :
See what fits your personality
Make a spreadsheet of financial aid awards
Know what you can and cannot afford
Cast, I advise that you see your college counselors, and allow them to help you on this journey. No one deserves to be alone in one of their many big decisions in life.