Students arriving on an HBCU campus for the first time probably have lots of questions about the HBCU experience. Even students who are returning to campus for their second, third, or even fourth years may wonder if they’re doing it “right.” Whether you’re a fresh face on campus or preparing for graduation, good advice can help you make the most of your college experience.
Here at The Home Depot, many of our associates are HBCU alums. We asked them to offer their best advice for HBCU students. Here’s what they had to say.
HDE Ordering Coordinator
Savannah State University
Always keep a network of fellow HBCU students you have met on the way. A lot of life comes down to who you know and being ready for the opportunity to utilize your skills. Also, remember to help someone grow on your way to the top.
Sr. Analyst Brand Advocate
Florida A&M University
Participate in events and activities to build relationships with other students and professors. Most professors have contacts at major companies and will be happy to share their connections. They can also write letters of recommendation for internships, jobs, and grad school applications.
When you feel overwhelmed, lean on your support system. It’s ok to lighten your course load and pace yourself; college is not a race.
College will be the BEST time of your life, so do not take it for granted. Enjoy it wholeheartedly, have fun, and create great memories.
Customer Service Representative
Florida A&M University
Attending an HBCU will without a doubt be the best choice you’ll ever make. The experience is catered specifically to our culture and values, so it’ll feel like home the moment you step foot on campus. Cherish those moments. Eat in the cafeteria with friends, even on days when you’re extra busy! Build relationships with your professors. Go to every single convocation – no matter how early. Join clubs and make your presence known on campus. You’ll be glad you did! Once you graduate, you’ll have great memories and a legacy to pass on!
Human Resources Generalist
Fort Valley State University
Make appointments with your professors during their office hours when you need help. Join a club and be active. This will help you build your network. Keep in touch with your family members and friends because they will miss you. It goes by fast, so enjoy the experience!
Take full advantage of the networks and opportunities provided at your institution. Create meaningful relationships with your professors, peers, and counselors. You never know how much they can assist you in your long-term personal and professional endeavors. If you are looking for employment post-graduation, take full advantage of your school’s career center. Students miss out on wonderful, life-changing opportunities when they don’t attend career fairs or meet & greets. My final advice is to go at your own pace and never compare yourself to anyone else.
Product Manager, Advertising Technology
North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University
Make every day an adventure. This is your chance to define who you are on your own, with your own, and for your own. Swag surf with the masses, go to every homecoming event (official and unofficial), spruce up that resume for the career fairs, and take advantage of every opportunity presented to you. The people you meet here will be incredible connections and amazing friends throughout life who will remind you who you are and what you stand for. Your four(ish) years in college will catapult you into adulthood. Make them count and make them memorable. Have fun, and welcome to the family. We’re so excited to have you.
Associate Media Manager
Step outside of your comfort zone. Don’t be afraid to form relationships with the diverse faculty and student body. The HBCU alumni network can be extremely beneficial. Participating in extracurricular activities your first year will help you find your tribe outside of those you live with or may have known before arriving. Apply for internships your freshman year and take advantage of study abroad opportunities if available. Have fun and work hard. Remember, it’s all about balance and time management!
Analyst, HRS OPS BUS
Bethune Cookman University
Get outside of your comfort zone. Start building your network from day one. Meet faculty, staff members, and other students. Your network will have a great deal to do with your future success.
Manager, HR Process Integration
Savannah State University
- Treat college like a fresh start but leverage the structure and discipline it took to graduate from high school. When I first started, I kept my schedule very similar to a normal high school day (without long breaks between classes) so that I could have my afternoons and evenings free to study.
- Take advantage of your professors’ knowledge and connections. Build genuine relationships with them. They will likely be the key to future career opportunities.
- College is a place to learn to “do” life. The choices you make shape the person you will become. Guard your reputation and treat everyone with respect. College is the safest place to respectfully debate and learn from other perspectives.
- Travel if you can – even if it is just visiting your new dormmates’ hometowns on the weekends. Experiencing different family structures, cities, and lifestyles will shape your outlook and give you a deeper sense of appreciation for your own family.
- Choose your major based on what you enjoy – not other people’s expectations.
We hope these bits of advice from our associates will provide encouragement, insight, and inspiration throughout the rest of your HBCU journey. Visit The Drill throughout your school year for more helpful tips and advice about the HBCU experience.