Our Mission: To increase the Number of Mississippi Adults with a College Degree
• 44.4%: Percentage of Mississippi adults who have a degree or credential (compared to the 51.2% US national average).
• #49: Mississippi’s ranking amongst 50 US states for college degree completion.
• 316,000+: Number of Mississippi adults who have some college credits but no degree. This is 10.7% or more than 1 of every 10 adults in our state’s population.
In 2017, the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning and the Mississippi Community College Board launched the Complete 2 Compete (C2C) program to increase the number of adults with a college degree.
The Complete 2 Compete (C2C) Strategy
The C2C program seeks to impact our state’s educational attainment statistics by removing the barriers that are keeping working adults who left college without a degree from returning and graduating.
C2C serves adults who have at least 12 college credits and who have not attended college in at least 24 months.
Returning Adults Face Unique Barriers
For working adults to go back to college they must hurdle barriers that aren’t common for traditional learners who transition directly from high school into college.
C2C Was Created to Help
To address these barriers, C2C combines the resources of our state’s 24 public higher education institutions with funding from the MS Department of Human Services and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to provide financial assistance, degree pathways, and coach support across all campuses:
• 15 public community colleges
• 8 public universities
• The University of MS Medical center
IHL and MCCB, along with each of these public institutions, are committed to helping adults return to college to complete degrees and achieve brighter futures.
Over the past 5 years, C2C has doubled the C2C grant from $500 to $1,000 per semester, greatly expanded online and direct mail outreach, developed an easy-to-use online registration and grant application system for students and school administrators, and much more! Learn about the history of C2C and its accomplishments in our 5-year anniversary article.
How C2C Serves
C2C combines student support and resources with organizational structure and systems to make a positive impact for returning adults.
How we do this:
- Provide trained C2C coaches at each of the state’s 24 public institutions who serve as guides for adults who are returning to school.
- Promote, facilitate, and award grants to qualified adults to help offset or eliminate the cost of finishing college.
- Organize and promote degree options like the University Studies Degree, which is often the fastest path to graduation for many students. The University Studies degree is currently the most-awarded degree in MS.
How we do this:
- Facilitate communication and share best practices across our state’s 21 colleges to help more adults finish their degrees.
- Develop the programs and policies to empower institutions to meet the needs of Mississippi adults.
- Provide centralized tracking of returning students from first contact through graduation.
- Our Student Dashboard makes it possible to reach out to specific individuals who may be missing out on the benefits of finishing their degrees.
- Write grants to receive funding for the program and C2C grant.
How we do this:
- Run monthly outreach campaigns using personalized traditional mail and e-mail, social media, internet advertising, and other mediums to reach thousands of former students who could return to finish their degrees.
- Reinforce the importance of finishing a degree and share the resources that are available for Mississippians.
Many of those reached by C2C did not know that these resources were available to help them return and graduate from college.
C2C exists to help more adults in Mississippi to return to college and finish. As more people achieve their degrees we can have a positive effect on families, communities, and our state economy.
Here is a closer look at some of the effects that degree attainment can have:
• Better job options: communities attract employers seeking a high-skilled workforce.
• Increased wages: higher percentage of adults with well-paying jobs.
• Increased self-sufficiency: decreased unemployment, underemployment, and the percentage of people relying on public assistance.
• Improved outcomes for children: improvements in children’s physical & mental health, development, and school achievement as wages increase in communities.
Some people think of C2C as a program that helps adults finish their degrees. In effect, it’s a program that helps people enjoy better lives, recognize more opportunities, and experience brighter futures for themselves and their families!
Supporting the Institutions that Create Our Growth
C2C’s work also helps to create sustainability for Mississippi higher education institutions by increasing enrollments and graduation rates.
Hear from Graduates
Are you in the stadium?
Imagine this: you’re flying in a helicopter and look down to see a football stadium. The bold logo catches your attention but what really stands out are the CROWDS of people! The stands are packed and you can almost hear the cheering.
But then you notice another identical stadium, also packed with people. Then there’s another… another… another… 5 stadiums FULL of people.
That’s about how many people in Mississippi have SOME COLLEGE CREDITS BUT NO DEGREE.
Yes, 316,490 people in Mississippi, or about 5 football stadiums full, have spent some time in college but have never finished with a degree. Almost 85,000 of these adults could be 1, 2 or 3 classes away from finishing a degree!
Life happens, and we can’t always finish college on our first attempt. However, this means that adults with “Some College but No Degree” could be missing out on the good things that tend to come with a college credential.
• National Ranking: St. Louis Fed Educational Attainment Report 2021
• Some College, No Degree: NSCRC Some College, No Credential Student Outcomes Annual Progress Report – Academic Year 2020/21
• Positive Outcomes on Children Because of Increased Wages: Boston Fed The Downstream Benefits of Higher Incomes and Wages Report
• Stadium Image Courtesy of the University of Mississippi