Understanding PWI Colleges: What They Mean and Colleges to Consider

by Adanlawo Opeyemi
9 minutes read

Understanding PWI: What They Mean and Top Colleges to Consider

PWI, or Predominantly White Institutions, are colleges and universities in the US where most students are white. While PWI colleges offer a range of educational opportunities, they are known for lacking diversity and often failing to meet the needs of minority students. This article will explore what PWI means and the top PWI colleges to consider.

What is PWI?

PWI stands for Predominantly White Institutions, which refers to colleges and universities where white students comprise most of the student population. While there is no official definition for PWI, it is commonly used to describe schools where at least 50% of the students are white.

PWI colleges and universities have been criticized for their lack of diversity and failure to meet the needs of minority students. Students of color may face challenges such as feeling isolated or experiencing racism and discrimination. As a result, many minority students prefer to attend Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) or other minority-serving institutions.

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Top PWI Colleges to Consider

Despite the challenges faced by minority students at PWI colleges, many of these institutions offer excellent educational opportunities and resources. Here are some of the top PWI colleges to consider:

  1. Harvard University: Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard is one of the most prestigious universities in the world. With an acceptance rate of just 4.9%, Harvard is highly selective but offers outstanding student resources and opportunities.
  2. Stanford University: Located in Stanford, California, Stanford is known for its excellent STEM programs and entrepreneurial spirit. With an acceptance rate of just 4.3%, Stanford is highly selective, offering students a range of resources and opportunities.
  3. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT): Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, MIT is known for its world-class programs in engineering, science, and technology. With an acceptance rate of just 6.7%, MIT is highly selective but offers outstanding student resources and opportunities.
  4. The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA): Located in Los Angeles, California, UCLA is known for its excellent programs in business, medicine, and the arts. With an acceptance rate of 14%, UCLA is highly competitive, but it offers students a range of resources and opportunities.

Other PWI Colleges & Websites

  1. Beth Medrash Govoha
  2. Hampton University
  3. Texas A & M International University
  4. Alabama State University
  5. Yeshiva University
  6. Southern University and A&M College
  7. Jackson State University
  8. Alcorn State University
  9. Alabama A&M University
  10. University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

Scholarships for Black Students at PWI Colleges in Texas

For black students considering PWI colleges in Texas, scholarships are available to help offset the cost of tuition. Here are some of the scholarships available:

  1. The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Scholarship: This scholarship is open to high school seniors in the Houston area who plan to attend a Texas college or university. Black students are encouraged to apply.
  2. The Texas Educational Opportunity Grant (TEOG): This grant is available to Texas residents who demonstrate financial need. Black students are encouraged to apply.
  3. The Tom Joyner Foundation Scholarship: This scholarship is available to black students who plan to attend a PWI college or university. Recipients must demonstrate financial need and academic excellence.
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While PWI colleges have been criticized for their lack of diversity and failure to meet the needs of minority students, they still offer outstanding educational opportunities and resources. Students of color

Black Student at PWI Colleges

Black Student and White Student Studying Together at PWI Colleges

Tips for Black Students Interested in Attending PWI Colleges

Locate a support group

“Finding a community and support network is the most important thing. It is hard to find people with similar backgrounds who have faced similar struggles. Last but not least, take care of your mental well-being. While college can be stressful and difficult, it can become more complicated when an underrepresented student. It would help if you made time for yourself even in the midst. “If you require counseling or health services, you can use them at your school.” -Rosa Elena Lopez.

Do not be afraid

“I did my thing. I commuted to school, worked 30 hours a week, and then went to school full-time. After completing my undergraduate degree, I enrolled in graduate school and worked full-time as a high school teacher. I’m in my second year of [Doctorate of Education] and still work full-time. I recommend you not be afraid to see the bigger picture and not be yourself. Remember that you are equally capable and deserving of being there.” -Valeria Carillo, 28

Self-love is a practice.

My top tip is radical self-love and celebration. You can be as loud about your Latinx identity as you like. You will be proud of all the ways that you exist. “I found that the more I worked to nurture that self-love of my Latinx identity, the more challenging it was to dispel the voices in my head coming from impostor syndrome.

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Expect others to understand what you are going through

Self-care is essential; micro-aggressions can be found everywhere. It is vital to find a way to relax and remain focused. You may be the first person in your family to attend college. However, your white peers might not be able to understand the hardships that you went through to get here. It can be hard to live with so much white privilege. “Just breathe and move forward.” -A.J. Carolina, 30

There are differences between HBCUs and PWI.

Campus Life

The campus life at a PWI differs significantly from that at an HBCU. Events like Soul Food, Sunday, and Battle of the Bands are only held at HBCU campuses. A PWI may have events like Mud Games or lacrosse games to highlight its calendar.

Course Study

Only at the HBCU are areas of study such as urban education and urban affairs. The PWI offers similar courses that are elective.


A PWI and an HBCU offer a sense of community between students and the college where they have spent four crucial years. Sometimes I think about what it would feel like to attend an HBCU, even though I love my college.

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