The Chicago chapter of 100 Black Men (100BMC) hosted its annual college scholarship fair on Saturday, Oct. 5. The 17th anniversary of the Fair saw a milestone — 90 percent of participating colleges and universities accepted students on the spot.
A select number of students received over $240,000 in scholarships at the honors reception hosted by 100BMC each year, the night before the college fair. Students had to have a 3.5 GPA, 27 or better on the ACT, and 1280 or better on the SAT in order to be eligible to attend.
When we are in a position to help young black people in the Chicagoland area, it’s always a good day,” said Carl Tutt, president of 100BMC.
Not deterred by another college recruitment event just a few miles away at McCormick Place, Tutt says other organizations are about numbers. But 100BMC is about creating a safe space for young people and parents by hand picking colleges and universities who care about diversity, providing parents with valuable resources, and seeing students excel so that they know how to choose a major, compete, understand campus culture, and graduate on time. “Our job is to help these students and their parents be as knowledgeable as possible to understand how to navigate and get into higher learning.”
Many of the counselors who attend the 100 BMC fair have been participating for more than 10 years.
Tutt also says college life is not just about academics, it’s about cultivating a culture of success. “The difference between us and the other organization is that we are here for the student,” said Tutt. “Other college fairs are there for the colleges.”
In February, The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that while college student populations are growing more diverse, achievement gaps persist. Even more startling, the report states that black male students pursuing bachelor’s degrees were the most likely among any demographic group to drop out after their freshmen year.
To combat this statistic, 100BMC offered parents and students an opportunity to better understand how to transition from high school to college and navigate college life–before and after it starts. In addition to having access to hundreds of colleges and universities, there were four to six workshops addressing financial literacy, financial aid, Greek Life and even one providing a snapshot of the value of attending an HBCU. Also included was FAFSA training for parents.
“Most of the time, when you get rejected for FAFSA it was because you didn’t fill out the application properly. Because they don’t tell you what you did wrong. So, you have to find ways to train our parents on how to fill out the form properly, so you can get the money that’s owed you, because you are eligible.”
Morehouse College was one of many Historically Black Colleges in attendance. “What we try to do is get them into Morehouse,” said Aaron Williams, a 1991 alumnus. “Whether they are interested in law, religion, want to be a pastor or educator, our first job is to educate them on the Morehouse experience, which is different than any other school here.”
Williams said law, specifically criminal justice, business, and engineering were the most asked about majors during his time manning the information table.
Joseph Anderson, an enrollment specialist from Chicago State University, said the event was about empowering students of color to exercise their agency and to remind students that this is not a party, it’s business and should be treated as such.
“Don’t think of yourself as a consumer, but a client,” said Anderson. “All the power is yours; you don’t need us, we need you.”
Christopher Cook, the committee chair for the event, said the goal was to eliminate the intimidation students often have about the admissions process.
“Just having admissions counselors there to say, ‘hey they are people just like we are’. It gave them a sense of comfort,” said Cook. “I think that is an important part of being accepted, being able to vouch for their skills and what they can offer the university.”
“The goal was to execute under the circumstances of there being another college fair on the same day, almost at the same time,” said Cook. “I’m glad the target population that we serve came out and received the information that they wanted about the college of their choice. Overall I believe that this was a well-executed event and I’m excited about next year.”