Technology

Web connects Black college students, alumni

By Donna Marbury
Special to the NNPA from the Columbus Post | Last updated: Nov 13, 2007 - 11:54:00 AM

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Website connects Black college students, alumni and offers tips on college life

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (NNPA) - Who would guess that the nation’s second largest Black–owned website was stationed in Columbus? Since 1999, brothers William R. Moss, III and Daniel C. Moss, who founded HBCUConnect.com, have more than 275,000 current students and alumni of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) registered to the site.

Daniel Moss, who is the vice president of business development, says that a site geared specifically toward Black college students and alumni and their needs is a necessity.

“There are thousands of HBCU students and alumni. As alumni organizations serve their members by keeping them abreast of their school’s news and events, we serve the alumni of HBCUs by providing them with relevant career, networking and event information relating to their respective schools,” said Mr. Moss noting the website features all 105 HBCUs. “We fund several scholarships ourselves, as well as provide internship and co-op opportunities. Attending an HBCU is a unique experience. We recognized the need for a website uniquely tailored to the unique needs of our members.”

Mr. Moss, a graduate of Claflin University in South Carolina joined his brother William as he developed a site at his alma mater Hampton University’s alumni chapter. From their grassroots effort, 80,000 people registered to the site.

“It’s funny because this all started as a hobby of sorts, although we recognized very quickly that a business model for our service needed to be made, so we did. We are the number one HBCU related website and the second largest Black-owned site now,” said Mr. Moss. “We have positioned ourselves as the agency for brokering services and products to the Black college audience, and have become the clearinghouse for everything related to Black colleges.”

The site offers career advice, information on scholarships and a place for students to dialogue about their unique experiences at Black colleges. New features like blogs and celebrity profiles allow site members to express themselves and connect nationwide.

Mr. Moss says that they continue to look towards the future as 90,000 high school students interested in Black colleges are now registered to the site. HBCU Connect.com gave $5,000 to the UNCF College Fund this year, and plans to quadruple its donation and sponsor the event nationally next year. The company is also sponsoring a cruise this Fall so that HBCU friends, alumni and current students can network and enjoy the fruits of their labor.

Through their hard work, Mr. Moss says the family owned and operated business will continue to grow and provide more services to Black college supporters.

“We’d like to continue to raise the awareness of these schools and position ourselves in such a way that our community respects, values and realizes the relevance of these fine institutions,” Mr. Moss said. “We are a site and community of individuals whose mission it is to shed light on the often-overshadowed truth of these important institutions’ contributions to the tapestry that is America.”

• Know what you want to do—You may be undecided and unsure of what direction to take, but an awareness at least of what type of degree you are seeking (associates, bachelors of science, or bachelors of arts) can be extremely helpful. The difference will determine how much math and science you have to take.

• Schedule English first—Freshman English is the prerequisite for just about any class you will take in the future, so get it out of the way ASAP. Also look into math and science because they have prerequisites too.

• Research your major—Knowing what classes are required for your major is key. Some majors require prerequisite classes before you are admitted into their programs, so knowing them (and enrolling) early will help you avoid wasting time with classes you don’t need. Many students end up taking classes which are not required by their major because they didn’t have a plan.

• Find classrooms before the first day—Avoid the traps of many students who wander around the first day with confused and bewildered looks on their faces because they have no idea where to go. Nine times out of ten, you will be late, which some professors won’t tolerate. Taking the time before classes start to locate the buildings and rooms will save you a major headache.

• Be sociable—You never know when you might miss a class, so making friends with at least two people in each class will be invaluable. You can call them for missed assignments or help with difficult questions.

• Never be afraid to ask for help—You’d be surprised by all the opportunities that people miss out on because they didn’t know help was available. Become best friends with your advisor. Ask them anything, anytime. It’s what they get paid to do.

• Let the professor know you exist—Don’t sit in the back of the class like a bump on a log. Establishing a relationship with your professor can be extremely helpful, especially when it’s time for grades. Who will the teacher remember more, the student who always answered questions (or at least always asked them), or the person who never said a word and slumped in his/her seat? The difference between a C- and a D+ may be whether a teacher knows you’re truly trying. This rule also goes for teaching assistants, who will be your link to professors. Also, visiting a professor during his office hours is never a bad idea.

• Get involved—Your whole college career will be much better if you do. There are so many things to participate in, and they look good on a resume.

• Don’t party until 4 a.m.—This may be the most important tip. You may ask, what more is there to college besides the parties? Well, umm, graduating might be nice. Graduating on time is even nicer. So although parties, clubbin’, and kickin’ it are all great, studying is helpful, and making it to class (awake and sober), is even better. Teachers usually give a two-day freebie, but don’t count on those for recouping from the night’s events. What happens if you actually need the day off?

There are many more tips that could be beneficial, (like knowing that at a large university, lecture classes can have 200 or more students, or that the freshman 15 can be brutal), but that’s the thing about college: it’s a learning process. The key is to go with the flow and not get too stressed. It’s also important not to get too relaxed either. Although college is a time for fun and self-discovery, it’s a vehicle for your future. In this world where more and more education is required, you can’t afford to blow it off. So make the most of it!

Columbus Post intern Chauntelle Folds is a senior at The Ohio State University.

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