Welcome aboard, IHL Commissioner Glenn Boyce! In a talk at the Stennis Institute of Government, Boyce claimed that access to higher education in Mississippi is phenomenal, but that too few students are prepared to complete their undergraduate degrees. The brain drain in Mississippi doesn’t merely result from our best and brightest students leaving the state; it results from the fact that too may students from Mississippi go to college and drop out.
Commissioner Boyce, I can help you with this. Give every MSMS a free ride to a public university in Mississippi. It’ll cost you less than $400,000, and you’ll have a cohort of scholarship recipients far less likely to drop out before completing their degrees.
On a related note, a recent study determined that those planning for a career in nursing are far more likely to stay in Mississippi than those who get degrees in STEM fields. I can understand the former–the sick will always be with us–but why the latter?
Commissioner Boyce is not wrong. A majority of Mississippi’s students are not prepared for college, and while the state’s best students leaving is an issue, it is not the cause of all problems. Instead of looking at the highest level of education and saying that’s what we need to fix, we should go lower, much lower. The reason students aren’t prepared for college is because of their previous experience with school and education. With the poor learning conditions and terrible environments a majority of students have to suffer through it’s no wonder they can’t handle college. Sure, you could pay for every student from MSMS to attend a college in Mississippi, however, what would this fix? After they receive their degrees who to say they just won’t leave then? Nurses stay because of employment reasons, most attain a set of skills and use them during their jobs. However, this differs when you look at the STEM field. A majority of people who have careers geared toward STEM simply seek better opportunities that cannot be found in Mississippi, whether it be for research in their field or a better job opportunity. The common factor with all of this is Mississippi; it seems as if we are looking for solutions in all the wrong places, when if more time and money were delegated to the state’s educational fund or infrastructure in general, we could start our path to reconstruction and success.
Mississippi is the least educated state in the US which is truly heart breaking, but the many public schools around the state do not prepare the students for the work load in college. We should resolve this problem before it worsens, rather than looking towards the best and brightest students, we should try to educate these student in which are dropping out, before they even think about the option. We need to prepare the future generation of Mississippi, after all they are the future.
Commissioner Glenn Boyce is on the right track for noting the importance of education in Mississippi and how it is something that needs to be encouraged regarding the current condition of the state. Now, he needs to act upon these expressed viewpoints. It is true that many Mississippi students drop out of college, but offering every MSMS student a free ride to a public Mississippi university is not the best possible solution. This wouldn’t solve the real problem plaguing Mississippi, a general lack of motivation and desire to learn. Many students at MSMS are already prepared for college and will succeed, and if they are determined to leave the state before or after graduating from college, they will. The money that could be used to offer free rides to MSMS students could be used towards fixing our broken education system which would motivate a greater portion of Mississippi’s student body, or for repairing any of Mississippi’s biggest deterrents such as its large poverty rate, lack of varied career options, and lack of social advancement; all of these factors are partial reasons why so many students are eager to leave the state. As for the lack of STEM careers in the state, Mississippi isn’t a state focused on such a career type, instead opting for agricultural job types. To fix this, introducing STEM research to school curriculums has started a positive trend that can only continue if certain persons or government powers decide to implement STEM research institutions, labs, and organizations in the state that can capitalize on the introduction to the field students receive in their grade school careers.
Governor Boyce is correct in his assessment of Mississippi’s education crisis. The reason for the exceptionally high dropout rates in Mississippi universities is the lack of preparation the schools provided to the students. The current state of education in Mississippi is deteriorating as the funding from education slowly makes its way to the pockets of those who refuse to increase Mississippi’s educational spending. Nurses stay in Mississippi due to the large amounts of health issues. The STEM field is moving farther away from Mississippi due to the lack of adoption for new ideas and innovations. Even if every MSMS student were given the opportunity to receive free education from public Mississippi universities, the influx of bright minds could not stop those with a lack of motivation to enhance their future to drop out. The main improvement that would occur would be the influx of innovative ideas into Mississippi’s domains.
I disagree with the access to education being phenomenal in Mississippi. In fact, I believe access to more than community college is nearly unobtainable for most students. There is very little financial aid at the Mississippi universities for those that consider education to be a luxury and have to be convinced to go. But that’s not even the root of the problem. The public high schools try so hard not to leave the bottom of the class behind that the top of the class gets bored and stagnant. Because of this, students that could be excelling, happily, are bored by the thought of learning another basic concept that come to them with ease. High schools should be for preparing students for more learning; instead, my old school has THIRTEEN vocational tracks and requires freshman (or at least did last I was there) to choose a career track. The tracks prepare you for the job and leave education in the dust. Students aren’t going to feel any urgency to learn more when they feel as if they are prepared to go into these careers that don’t technically require more than a high school education. While it is good to have these vocational opportunities, it should not be at the expense of education, the purpose of high school.
In reference to the nursing students staying and STEM students leaving, that’s an easy explanation as a STEM student myself. There are several good nursing schools in Mississippi: the W, USM, JCJC, MC. The only good STEM programs, in my opinion, are the engineering program at MSU and the polymer science program at USM. In order to get a good STEM education, out of state education is required. This may also be another reason students are leaving; in my experience, many high achieving students want a STEM education, even if not as their major. There are also many lower achieving students that love science (because lets be honest, science is much cooler than everything else) but have never had a real science course in order to realize their love for it.
Commissioner Boyce is certainly valid in his sentiments. Education is readily available. Opportunities for excellence are readily available. You know what they say – you can take a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. Similarly, education is there for students to access, but its the students themselves that have to take the reins and initiate their own academic careers. However, their is a flaw in our education. The problem doesn’t stem from higher education, it starts at the roots. A problem has to be addressed at its foundations in order to be properly solved. The flaws lie in our k-12 school system. If the students are better prepared in elementary, middle, and high school, then college will be made easier, and thus a more desirable opportunity. The best and brightest students may leave, but what about the others? Everyone has potential, they just have to seize it.
I agree that there are too many students in Mississippi that drop out of college and giving MSMS students free rides to public universities would be amazing, but that in my opinion, is asking for too much no matter how great it sounds. I would love to get full rides to in-state universities just to graduate from MSMS, but I feel that that is too good to be true.
Commissioner Boyce is not wrong to say that a higher education in MS is easily accessible to your average student; however, the real question is whether or not these education opportunities are easily accessible to everyone who would like an advanced learning- not only as high school graduates but even during the high school career. While higher education is certainly accessible to MS, the facilities may not necessarily be assessable to those who had not had a good high school education. Thus, the real issue is not a matter of undergrad but the public school education that facilitates the success going into college. College drop-outs are not solely to blame as public education in MS is poor and much of it depends on the socio-economic standing of families and whether their children have access to educational opportunities. Boyce is right to acknowledge the importance of a higher-education in MS and in order to solve this issue, solutions must be searched for beyond just the surface of higher-education.
Education in Mississippi is truly one thing that isn’t on track. If you take accounts from students and go into schools, you can see that some teachers do not care, and on a personal experience, I had a teacher to walk out of the classroom one day and just quit, later being revealed she was heavily into drugs. Through this I found out they do not drug test teachers. From my hometown I also heard that a teacher was fired after coming to class several times drunk and hungover and just sleeping while letting the kids watch movies such as Saw. This is unacceptable! More regulations need to be put on teachers and they need to be paid more so that more people have an incentive to go into teaching fields. If all we have to choose from is drug addicts and alcoholics then what kind of future are we creating for the children they are teaching? On the STEM note, I believe this is due to the fact that Mississippi is less developed in the STEM fields than other states and offers less jobs in this field, so naturally more people would want to leave to go to somewhere where more opportunities are available.
Students of all ages should be encouraged to continue their academic career, even when it gets tough. I feel like in many schools, teachers are just their to pass you to the next grade without really teaching students what they need to know. This sets the student up for failure, because when they get to higher education they cannot adjust to the work load, that has never been there for them. A student’s high school years should prepare them for the difficult college years. Just to get the students accustomed to being challenged and put under pressure.
He is right in saying that the large issue is that students drop out of college, but we still have a large portion of our students not even making it to college to begin with. Yes ,there is the fact that the educated well off students leave ,but would you want to go to a college just like your high school. Especially since most of our high school where to easy for us. By high school I do not mean MSMS I mean my old school. A lot off collages especially community colleges claim to be like my high school. I want something better than that ,and doesn’t require me to take things that aren’t what I want. The course I want to take is just not offered at the level I would like in MS.
As someone who is pursuing a STEM career and plans to leave the state, I will defend my stance as part of the majority. There are three main reasons that I will contribute to the “brain drain”: the sheer gap in technology when compared to other states, the lack of job opportunities in MS , and both facts and stereotypes about the South itself.
The state of MS does not have the iconic large cities where technology flourishes and is constantly improving. Think of advanced subway systems, new renewable energy sources, companies who require supercomputers for the processing that they do on a daily basis. Now think of how many people are needed to maintain, innovate upon, and invent new versions of this technology, and realize that all of those are job opportunities for both those in the STEM field and many others. The South, which MS has proven itself to be a proud part of, has a very bad reputation. It is viewed as very conservative and unaccepting of minorities when compared to other parts of the US. The South is also considered to be less intelligent as a whole, which may or may not be true, but I would prefer not to be labeled as inferior due to my place of residence. These reasons and more are why I and other intelligent young residents of Mississippi will eventually leave the state.