The Internet is increasingly becoming one of the more important parts of our lives. Many of us make money, meet friends, and go to school all from the comfort of our homes, but so far, Black Colleges have been missing out on the boom.
According to the American Council of Education, African-American students make up only 12 percent of those enrolled in colleges and universities, but comprise 21 percent of those attending for-profit universities, many of which offer classes online.
So far, the HBCU Internet presence has been limited to social networks and university websites. Unlike other universities, HBCUs have been slow to offer online courses and degrees. Today nearly 4,500 universities offer online degrees, however, only 10 percent of historically Black colleges have web-based degree programs.
With enrollment and retention rates at HBCUs declining, some see offering degrees online as a way to help more students attain their degrees, while reclaiming some of them from for-profit colleges.
Popular radio host Tom Joyner believes in moving Black colleges online and putting his money where his mouth is. He’s invested $7 million to start HBCUsOnline.com, a site that promises personal guidance to Black students “from registration to graduation.”
To date, Hampton University (an online pioneer in it’s own right) and Texas Southern have signed on to partner with Joyner’s organization. And Joyner’s son, who is heading HBCUsOnline.com, is optimistic about the partnership.
“Combining our marketing resources, we stand a much better chance of establishing a presence in the online market space,” Tom Joyner Jr. said to The Associated Press.
Although there is some question as to whether the Black college experience can transfer to an online environment, many are excited about more students having access to HBCUs and the degrees they need to compete in the global marketplace.