BET’s “College Hill” Is Back — 10 Things To Know

BET brought College Hill back to television, and now is a good time to talk about the beauty of HBCU culture.

Black culture is American culture, and a major staple within that is historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). HBCUs have been committed to serving and educating Black people for hundreds of years.


Recently, BET rebooted its reality series, College Hillwith eight celebrities (NeNe Leakes, Ray J, Lamar Odom, Cash Doll, India Love, Big Freedia, Slim Thug, and Stacey Dash) attending Texas Southern University.

Although the world the cast see is only a fraction of a holistic HBCU experience, it does show why the historical institutions are still relevant. Here’s 10 reasons why:


HBCUs offer a sense of community.

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Diversity, equity, and inclusion strategies are all the rage; they are super important for organizations to implement. However, for minority communities, having a safe space to exist and feel and be in a place without much pretense is refreshing. It’s like a big family reunion every single day.


The yard is more than a stretch of campus.

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On College Hill: Celebrity Edition, the eight celebrities (now college students) walked on campus, greeted by the college’s royal court, the marching band, and a slew of students excited about their arrival. Now, the students with their cell phones ready to capture the moment could totally be attributed to the status of the celebrities. In addition, the yard is typically filled with fraternities and sororities stepping, the college’s court casually strolling through, students headed to class in their best outfits, and the list goes on. The yard is the pinnacle of gatherings.


Black Greek life is a real thing.

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Black Greek Letter organizations have deep histories within the Black community. With most of the nine fraternities and sororities having over a century of service under their belts, the organizations hold a special place on college campuses around the world. But, they hit a little differently at an HBCU (refer back to the sense of the community). Also, Ray J had a weird way of expressing possible interest in Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. Let’s just say it wasn’t the right way to do that.


Remember we talked about family? Yeah, that goes for faculty and staff as well.

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After each successful milestone, the cast meets with their academic advisors to check their progress and how they are acclimating to college life. We even see that the teachers care little about their status and influence and more about their work ethic. HBCU professors are like second parents. They won’t force you to do anything, but they will push you toward your best and pull you to the side if they think you are slacking or need additional support.


The cafeteria doesn’t always hit, but when it does, it’s on!


We haven’t seen much from the cast eating in the “caf,” but I can’t talk about HBCU culture without the glory of Fried Chicken Wednesday and Fried Fish Friday. I had those days at Morehouse College. My Spelman College sisters enjoyed the same luxury, and I have friends at other HBCUs like Tennessee State University and Florida A&M University who testify about the same cuisine. Those days don’t miss.


Extra-curricular activities are like the Olympics.

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Each cast member was encouraged to join a club, sport, or organization. While they all chose the ones they were most interested in, many of them did not expect the level of rigor that came with it. I think Stacey Dash was in for the rudest awakening. She wasn’t ready for the level of dedication required to keep up. HBCUs may not have the same budgets and resources as big state schools, but we are no less excellent and serious about our crafts.


You grow up fast.

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Now, this can be true for most college experiences, regardless of the type of institution. However, the days of hand holding are over. Yes, your professor may reach out when things are off, but they will not show pity for lackluster behavior and poor academic performance. The HBCU difference? You will fail even if they like you and treat you like family.


Bonding is a quick act.

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Most HBCUs have intimate enrollment sizes compared to larger colleges and universities. Because of this, the world gets even smaller. Everyone knows everyone, and the opportunity to co-labor, co-exist, and co-function is intensified. The cast mates learned this when they were introduced to group projects and living situations.


Since we mentioned dorms, let’s talk about them.

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These are more than just living quarters. It is an ecosystem where ideas are born, the barber and beauty shop is housed, and lifelong friends are formed. The College Hill crew is bonding fast. You get to know someone quickly when you have to live with them. And while this crew doesn’t have to stay in traditional dorms, they are forced to neglect the privilege of their home lives and build community in this new space.


A Different World pretty much got it right, and College Hill: Celebrity Edition is not too off base.

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One of my all-time favorite sitcoms is A Different World. The depiction of Black excellence and the cultural nuances of HBCUs were spot on. Plus, seeing that representation was paramount for young Black kids aspiring to attend college. Although that show pre-dates anything I knew about school at the time, after attending Morehouse College, I can say the show was spot on! From the depictions of relationships to the minor detail of having hot sauce on the table, they definitely used art to imitate reality. College Hill is different because it’s “real” but more because of the students the show focuses on.

This list doesn’t even scratch the surface of all the nuances and experiences felt at an HBCU, but we can’t deny the impact HBCUs have on the world. From Nobel Peace prize winners to the Vice President of the United States, there are many reasons to celebrate and acknowledge the greatness of HBCUs.

What are some things you remember about your HBCU experience that made it special?

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