Dozens of historically black colleges and universities will shatter application and enrollment records this fall, thanks in part to Black Americans realizing how much black lives matter, and predominantly white campuses struggling to accept this reality. Among the thousands of students who will show up this fall at HBCUs, some will not be academically, socially, fiscally or mentally prepared for independence on a college campus.
And because HBCUs still languish to pay for more police officers, more professors, more support staff and service technology, crime and frustration may mean an increase in bad HBCU press as well.
HBCU admissions may be ground zero for black college finance and culture, but it doesn’t have to constantly be portrayed as a smoldering pile of rubble with alumni, donors and leaders looking in upon it asking “why can’t we do better?” Several HBCUs are slowly building the pedigree of their incoming freshman students, earning grants and building capacity for remedial and first-year experience support.
But there may be another tool that HBCUs can use to admit students who can actualize college success. ZeeMee is a platform that allows aspiring college students to enhance their college applications with elements of social and digital media, showcasing themselves to recruiters and admissions officers, beyond the characteristics that a personal essay or recommendation letter could give.
HBCUs could desperately use a way to determine someone’s character, commitment and critical thinking skills not by way of an exam or probing interview — but by the videos and images they choose to upload of themselves to the college’s directory of applicants. Students who are serious about admission will showcase their volunteerism, their professional aspirations, and their ability to prove themselves as a good fit for a campus and its culture.
And those who aren’t serious will show themselves the door, well before they arrive at the gates of campus with federal loan debt and maturity issues which will drain the school’s already-thin student support resources.
There is no GPA or SAT requirement to create or to enhance a profile, and no commitment and admission officer has to make to a student who submits a profile for consideration. Students create a profile doing the things they do daily for Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat — making and editing videos. For black colleges and potential students, it seems like a perfect fit.
And at least one highly selective HBCU is already reaping the benefits of the platform.
ZeeMee didn’t pay me to write this post, but I do think it is the kind of game-changing asset that can help some or many HBCUs move towards a more efficient, productive admissions selection process. As we distance ourselves from an unprecedented semester of campus violence at HBCUs across the country, we need to find and invest in all possibilities which can bring students who possess the maturity or the grit necessary to make the most of the HBCU experience.