Although HBCUs are celebrated for their culturally enriching environments and unrivaled homecoming weekend festivities, they are also some of the nation’s most academically rigorous institutions, attracting competitive students from various backgrounds. Benedict College’s 2023 cohort is no exception. This school year, the 2019 “HBCU of the Year” (named by who) welcomed over 800 students, a class that includes three Valedictorians, an overall GPA of 3.1, and an increase in international student enrollment.

As Benedict prepares to celebrate its 150th year anniversary, the 2023 class profile dispels the notion that HBCUs cannot compete with PWIs (Predominantly White Institutions) in terms of attracting and retaining academically gifted students. This incoming class reflects that HBCUs are in fact schools of choice for college-bound students. Benedict’s success in recruitment and retention is the result of the administration’s efforts to enhance curriculum across the board.

Within the last year, Benedict was selected by the American Council on Education as a recipient of the prestigious ACE/Fidelity Investments Award for Institutional Transformation. The award honors institutions that have developed innovative responses to the everchanging landscape in post-secondary education. In June of this year, Benedict was nominated in six categories by HBCU Digest—an online media outlet covering all things HBCU-related: (1) Board of Trustees of the Year, (2) National Alumni Association of the Year, (3) Male Faculty of the Year, (5) Coach of the Year, and (6) HBCU of the Year. In August, Benedict snagged the most coveted title, HBCU of the Year.

Benedict College was founded in 1870 and has continued to provide high-quality education across a variety of programs in a diverse environment. While still committed to its core history to promote African American students, Benedict has proven itself capable of meeting the demands of the rapidly moving educational landscape. Benedict College is committed to preparing students to enter the global marketplace with exceptional cultural and professional competencies that will enable them to contribute to the sustainability and economic growth of their communities.

Benedict College is just one example of the many advancements HBCUs across the board are making in transforming academic success. HBCUs offer college-bound students the opportunity to develop professionally in a culturally sensitive environment, ensuring that students are prepared for the difficulties of the “real” world. In an age where “freedom of choice” reigns supreme, HBCUs are continually establishing themselves as schools of choice.

NaAsiaha Simon is President of NaAsiaha Simon & Associates (NSA) and a graduate of Wilberforce University.

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