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Insight Paper

Understanding the Mindset of Prospective HBCU Students

6 insights for HBCU enrollment leaders from EAB's 2023 Student Communication Preferences Survey

Understanding the priorities and preferences of students considering HBCUs

The past few years have been a time of change for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Despite the turbulence of the pandemic, many HBCUs saw increases in enrollment associated with the Black Lives Matter movement. Now, enrollment leaders face further uncertainty as the effects of the Supreme Court ban on race-based affirmative action—including a potential boost to HBCU enrollments—remain to be seen. Given these shifts, it’s critical for HBCU enrollment leaders to have data that can help them better understand the distinct college search priorities and preferences of their prospective students.

About this research

This report offers guidance for enrollment leaders on the college search and communication preferences of students considering HBCUs. The insights in this report are based on the findings from EAB’s 2023 Student Communication Preferences Survey, which included responses from 1,070 students who indicated they were considering HBCUs. The primary goal of this research is to provide insight into the distinctive characteristics and preferences of HBCU-seeking students so that HBCU enrollment leaders can maximize recruitment among that population.

This report explores six insights into how HBCU-seeking students search for and apply to colleges:

  1. HBCU-seeking students start college research earlier.
  2. HBCU-seeking students prioritize belonging.
  3. HBCU-seekers are more open to traveling for college.
  4. HBCU-seeking students appreciate direct outreach.
  5. Social media and virtual tours are key tools for HBCUs.
  6. Affordability remains a top student concern.

Download the Report

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