The Back Family’s Guide to College Admissions:  A Must for Every Family with College-Bound Students



     There’s a new book in town!  Or should I say “on the bookshelf”?  Co-authors Timothy Fields and Sherem Herndon-Brown have recently published The Black Family’s Guide to College Admissions: A Conversation about Education, Parenting and Race. It’s a one-of-a-kind playbook for the college search, application, and admission that answers all the questions parents may have about guiding their children through the process. With their own diverse experiences, the authors explore the first decision: to choose an HBCU (Historically Black College or University), a PWI (predominantly white institution), or to choose a college based on other factors like cost, distance and majors. With television shows like A Different World in the 80s and now All-American Homecoming, interest in Black colleges is steadily climbing.

     Between them, the authors carry over forty years of experience in counseling and college admissions. Shereem was an admissions officer at Georgetown University and has been a counselor at two prestigious private secondary schools. He started his own consulting company to help families consider everything from course selection, to testing and essay options, to which institutions to visit. Tim is senior associate dean of admissions at Emory University for whom he recruits and reviews applications. He is also an admissions expert with national educational organizations like QuestBridge, the United Negro College Fund, the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, and several federal TRIO programs. Needless to say, they are both highly qualified in this field.


     While the nuggets of advice are relevant to any family, the book focuses on the dilemmas Black families often face: negative attitudes about attending HBCUs, undermatching from high school counselors (when they discourage students from applying to certain universities because they inaccurately evaluated their strengths), and the pressure to follow the family's educational legacy, whether it is an HBCU or an Ivy League university. Tim attended an integrated public high school and Morehouse, an HBCU, while Shereem attended a private boarding school and Wesleyan University, a PWI. The book does not promote one type of college over the other, but surveys them equally, pointing out factors that may affect a college decision such as the racial make-up of the high school and how that impacts the environment a student may be more comfortable with.

We wrote this book for the Black families who feel uninformed, overlooked, and in some instances, ignored in the college process. We also wrote this book for educators who work with Black students and families. We are hopeful that those who call themselves guidance counselors or college advisors are looking for more insight and resources with the goal of truly believing and investing in diversity, equity, and inclusivity. The search for the right college is personal, but for Black families, given the history of this country and the foundation of the educational system, some additional issues must be considered. We want to bring these issues to the forefront and provide some context around them. While conversations about these issues have been going on for years in small circles, they need to happen more widely and with many more participants. We wrote this book for Black parents like us who strive to do what's best for our children with more resources perhaps than we were raised with. Many of us struggle to know what the "best" education looks like for our Black children when we want them to be secure in their culture and identity, but also to get a quality education. --- (Preface)



     The book is very well-written and full of history and statistics about successful Black Americans and their college backgrounds. Info on a number of colleges is side barred throughout the book that features both HBCUs and PWIs as well as their size, city, and type of setting, key factors in considering a college.  There is a "Timeline for Success: Grades Nine to Twelve" that explains exactly what needs to be done during each spring and fall semester in high school in order to be ready for college application junior or senior year. "Show me the Money" gives detailed information about financial aid and how to get it.

   In addition to the twelve chapters are three appendices on "The Best Colleges for Black Students,"  and "Notable Black College Graduates." Appendix B, "Frequently Asked Questions," is especially helpful for parents to make sure their students are taking the right courses and tests in high school and setting timelines for college visits and the application process itself. The college community has its own language so there is also a glossary at the end as well as a reading list for further information on college selection. This book is a godsend for any parent or student who doesn't know where to begin. Check out these reviews.

The Black Family's Guide to College Admissions was published in September 2022 and may be purchased at or at It's available in paperback, Kindle, or audio.      If you have a college-bound student in your family of any age, this book is for you!


The Black Family's Guide to College Admissions is essential reading for anyone who works with Black students considering college. The authors share invaluable insight into the complex and necessary concerns that Black families must consider when exploring higher education, lived experiences shared by too few in college admissions.    -- Marie Bigham, Founder and Co-leader, ACCEPT: Admissions Community Cultivating Equity & Peace Today

There are many books that provide insight on the ins and outs of the college admissions process, but none is specifically geared toward Black families. There are things that Black families should be aware of as they go through the college search and selection process, and this book provides direction and clear answers. The information in this book can also be helpful to guidance counselors that may be advising Black families and students.   -- Jawaan J. Wallace, Dean of College Counseling, Marlborough School

Kudos Tim and Shereem for lifting the veil on the conversations that have been going on for years among small circles of Black families who understand the college admissions process was not designed with their Black student in mind. This book is not only informative, it is a must-have guide that should be read by every Black parent, educator, and school counselor tasked with advising Black students, long before they embark on the college admissions process.   -- Cathleen Trigg-Jones, Emmy Award Winning Journalist, Mother of 4, Founder of iWoman TV

Focusing on the what, the why, and the how of college selection for Black students and their families, the authors provide advice from both the high school and college admissions perspective of the process. This exceptional book addresses issues of race as they intersect with the choice of Historically Black Colleges and Universities or predominantly white institutions and explains the selective college admissions process for high-achieving students of color.― School Library Journal 


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