As many high school seniors scramble to get their college applications in on January first, some students of color find themselves with an extra set of questions to ask when selecting schools.
Youth Radio talked to three students, Mali Dandridge, Syire Brown-Vaillancourt, and Finley Davis, about how they’ve narrowed down their options and what extra considerations their heritage brings forward.
Mali Dandridge: My race has definitely informed my decisions of where to apply. Just because being black, I really want to be comfortable and where I want to go because I know that I’m the type of person that I wouldn’t be able to thrive in an environment that I feel like an outlier in or just that I could be myself.
Finley Davis: Going into a STEM field, I want a school that has programs that will make me represented. I really went to school with Hillel which is a Jewish student center and then same, being Hispanic. I know I want a school that has that population.
Syire Brown-Vaillancourt: For me, being black, I want to go to an HBCU for two to four years. The environment I’m looking for is just to really just be progressive and push forward and allow me to learn everything I need to do to grow myself as an artist.
FD: I always ask about the social life because I think that’s an important aspect that maybe on a college tour my parents aren’t most happy with me being like, “So how is the Greek life here?” But I think it’s a really important thing to know is how social a school is.
MD: The thing that I always ask is, “What’s the vibe of your students” Are they a more laid back or are they more preppy or are they more competitive or academically driven? Because I definitely don’t want to be in an environment that’s just really competitive and intense and cutthroat.
FD: If you have the chance to tour the college university I would definitely say do that. But what was really helpful for me is having the kind of viewpoint of a student there.
SBV: Colleges, no matter how beautiful or safe you think it’s going to be is going to have people coming from every single different part of the world there. People of a different level of ignorance and hatred for you and what you are. That’s something that you can’t let get to you at all.
MD: I want people to know that I deserve to be there and judge me based on my academia and what I know and what I contribute to the community rather than my race.