Authored by Dr. Andrea Mayfield
Executive Director of the Mississippi Community College Board (MCCB)
In the world we find ourselves living today, education and training is at premium now more than ever before. Studies show the amount of education and training a person receives ties directly to the amount of income earned along with many other factors associated to living a happy, successful life. In fact, a high school dropout will earn on average, $30,800 a year. For someone with a high school diploma, that amounts increases to $40,500, and for someone with an associate’s degree from a community college, the average is $50,100. Of course, additional education typically means a higher salary.
If you are among the many thousands without a high school diploma, you may feel stuck or at a dead end, but I want to let you know that is not the case. In Mississippi, our 15 community colleges are equipped to take all students, regardless of their educational background, and put them in a position to be successful throughout life. All of our colleges provide free adult education programs that allow someone to earn a high school equivalency degree. As you know, once you have earned that degree, other higher education doors are immediately opened that lead to other certificates, credentials, or degrees that employers look for when hiring. There is one important caveat, and that is students must be willing to put in the work in order to accomplish these goals.
Our community colleges even have specific programs to help you. The Mississippi Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training program, or MIBEST, takes those who have dropped out of high school and simultaneously enrolls them in high school equivalency and certain career and technical education programs. The result is students have the opportunity to finish the program in less time and more degrees and credentials. There are even support staff assigned to students to help them throughout the programs. Because of the generous support of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, financial resources are available to help cover the cost of the program.
In addition to MIBEST, each community college offers career and technical education programs along with workforce training that allow you to obtain the skills and training to quickly transition into careers such as nursing, commercial truck driving, welding, HVAC, and many other high-demand jobs. Because of prior choices, you may think you are unable to find a quality, good paying job. I am here to tell you that’s not the case because our community colleges will help put you in a position to be successful in life, no matter what your academic history might be. If you reach out to a community college to help, I can assure they will do whatever they can to put you in a place to be successful!