The University is welcoming its largest, most diverse freshman class this year, according to the LSU Division of Strategic Communications. The diversity population is now 30 percent among incoming freshman, with 11.2 percent of the student body identifying as black students.
Only 63.5 percent of Louisiana’s population identifies as white, although 75 percent of the University’s student body is white.
The enrollment increase proves minorities have the capability to attend a flagship university and potentially succeed at challenging higher education institutions. Black students should attend predominantly white institutions to change college enrollment statistics and break the stigma placed on black intellect in Louisiana.
Once an influx of black students enroll in PWIs, the school’s atmosphere diversifies in festivities, organizations and politics. This creates a feeling of inclusiveness within minorities and enhances student involvement in campus life.
"One of LSU’s goals is to ‘strengthen the intellectual environment by broadening the cultural diversity of the LSU community,’" LSU President F. King Alexander said in the statement.
Retention of minorities is one of the toughest challenges universities face. Students often leave because they feel underrepresented, or they find it difficult to balance their academic, social and work life.
“It’s important for us to not only bring high-quality, diverse classes each year, but to also see them complete their college degree. Once a student enrolls at LSU, we will provide every service and resource available to see them walk across the stage and earn their degree,” Alexander said.
A major contributing factor in the change in minority retention rates is the absence of racial prejudice toward students of color in academia. Another method to keep a large percentage of minorities at these schools is by allowing them to sit on student councils and amplify their voices on issues targeted toward their community.
If numerous black students become part of highly-concentrated white colleges at once, a diverse environment with different mindsets quickly develops. The PWI label placed on high-priced colleges in Louisiana begins to peel.
The University now requires all unmarried freshmen under 21 years old to live on campus if they don’t stay with a guardian within a 50-mile radius. The new policy is beneficial for the majority of first-year minorities because scholastic sources are easily accessible and will help them succeed academically.
Further, the retention rates for black students increase because they can lean on undergraduate advisers to help them overcome difficult courses during the semester.
It’s necessary for black students to consider flagship schools because of the abundance of financial aid they might receive. Grants and scholarships catered to minorities make the tuition affordable and help them accrue less debt.
The plethora of aid minorities can receive to pay for expensive colleges should encourage more black high school students to make PWIs their choice universities.
Even though it may be more comfortable for some minorities to apply to colleges with people who mainly share their ethnicity, it’s time for more black students to step away from their comfort zone and contribute to the value of education at flagship schools.
Jasmine Edmonson is a 20-year-old mass communication sophomore from Denham Springs, Louisiana.