In 2017 Kim Sims had three kids, a job, and lots of skills… even though she had to stop college 6 years earlier. However, in 2018, she discovered the C2C program and by 2019 she was walking across the stage to receive her bachelor’s degree!
A lot changed for the better for Kim, but she’s just one of the Mississippi adults who benefited from the C2C program over the past 5 years! She’s just one story out of the thousands of people who have been able to achieve a better life with a little help from the C2C program.
As we start a new year, it’s a great time to take a step back to look at the history of the C2C program, the people it has helped, and the exciting future.
First, a few quick stats the Complete 2 Compete (C2C) program has racked up as of this article:
- 2530+ students have been awarded degrees. That’s impressive! If we made a line of Corvettes representing each of these grads the traffic jam would be over 7 miles long.
- 1140+ students are currently enrolled and working towards degrees.
- Over $323,000 has been paid toward past debts to participating colleges.
- Over $3.4 million has been paid toward tuition.
Yeah, numbers can be hard to grasp, but the most important part is how each one of these degrees and debt payments helps real people lead better lives. Consider Kim for instance: after she got her degree, she got a promotion at work. Then, she decided to pursue her master’s degree. Even though her kids are in college and high school, their mother is discovering the joy of fulfilling her dreams.
We Did Our Homework
The C2C program is an initiative created by the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning and the Mississippi Community College Board. The mission of this program is to help adult students overcome the unique challenges they face in returning to school to complete their degrees.
This program is specifically designed to help individuals—just like you or someone you know—who have earned college credits and want to return to complete their degree. We’ve made exciting improvements each year to grow the program and better meet the needs of our students.
We’re delighted for every success story and accomplishment so far, and we’re just getting started!
We started 5 years ago by listening to returning adults. It was vital to find out what they wanted and needed in order to support their return to complete their degree.
Thanks to lots of input from adults, we’ve responded. The C2C program has grown and evolved over time to better serve MS adults.
We wanted to start by learning and we’re still listening today. It’s our goal to continuously improve the C2C program.
We started strong in 2017 with the beginning of the C2C program.
Some of the core features of C2C have been a part of the program from the very beginning:
- The University Studies degree – This bachelor’s degree option is exclusive to C2C. It offers flexibility in meeting the core requirements and has helped over 1,400 adults complete a bachelor’s degree. Many students finish their degrees with just a couple of classes or even without taking any additional classes!
- Reverse Transfer Associate Degree – This option allows students who have transferred from a community college to a public four-year university with at least 15 transferable credits to send those earned credits back to the community college. These reverse transfer credits can be counted towards an associate degree, giving students an additional credential so they can have more career options.
- C2C Coaches at each school – A unique benefit of the C2C program is the one-on-one coaching support provided to returning adults from application through graduation. Dedicated coaches are on staff at each of Mississippi’s eight public universities, 15 public community colleges, and the medical center.
- Online presence to spread the word– In our first year, we started our website, a Facebook page, and an online application. We wanted to start with a strong online presence so that every eligible student knows about the C2C program.
In 2018 and 2019, we continued to improve the program, with new additions aimed at serving more returning adults.
Here are a few of the expansions:
- Launched the C2C blog – The C2C blog was started in 2018 and now it’s a resource library of nearly 80 articles. Discover articles like these and many others:
- Started the C2C grant – The C2C Grant provides money each semester to qualifying program participants to help them complete their degrees. Paying for college is hard but the grant helps adults overcome these challenges! In addition to assisting with tuition and educational expenses, the grant can also help pay past debt owed to participating MS institutions.
- Ramped up advertising about C2C – We launched TV, radio, and billboard advertising in 2019 to spread the word about the C2C program and reach more people. We hear so many stories from people who learned about C2C through this advertising and were able to finish their degrees.
More progress, even during the pandemic
Over the past few years, we’ve faced challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic but have still seen growth and new opportunities in the program.
Some of the accomplishments over the past few years include these:
- Doubled the C2C Grant from $500 to $1,000 per semester – We were excited to increase the amount offered through the grant and be able to extend extra support.
- Navigated the challenges and opportunities of the pandemic – It’s undeniable that the pandemic has brought many challenges to higher education, but there have also been new opportunities. Changes such as more online classes, virtual programs, and increased night/weekend classes have provided a silver lining for adults returning to complete their degrees. We also looked for new ways to support our students. Our C2C coaches looked for creative ways to help and redefined coaching.
- Created the Instagram page – We expanded our online presence by creating an Instagram page to further share about the C2C program.
- Developed new online grant application – We launched a new online grant application, making it easier and faster to complete the process. Learn more here.
- Making the grant available to more students – New funding sources have opened up the grant to more students.
Hear From Our Graduates
Over the past 5 years, the C2C program has clearly been helpful to students. We’ve received a lot of stories from MS adults. Here are just a few of them:
“I am now able to check the box next to ‘College Graduate’ when prompted for education level. It feels SO good! Best of all, I feel like a great role model for our kids. Their mom is a college graduate.” – LaShawnda Clay
“I’m living proof that it’s NEVER too late to go back to school. I never saw myself going back, but I will forever be happy that I did. And having an amazing C2C Coach like Michele has made it an incredible experience.” – Elizabeth Yates
“Kristi and C2C were exactly what I needed – they listened to what my goals were, then showed me how to apply what I had already accomplished [so that I could pursue my bachelor’s degree].” – Zetella Gooch
And finally, a quote from Kim Sims, who started in 2017 without her degree: “You don’t have to limit yourself. You can go back, finish your degree and get a better job. Don’t give up on your dreams, this is the lesson I want to help my kids to learn.” –
Over the past 5 years, a lot of things have changed for the better in the C2C program. Something that’s stayed the same? Our commitment to adults in MS and helping them make a better life for themselves and their families. People like Kim will always be our inspiration and we keep working to make many more success stories like hers!
The C2C program has impacted the lives of so many Mississippi adult learners over the past five years who have dreamed of returning to college and finishing their degrees. We’re proud of the accomplishments of our graduates and the commitment of our current students. There are so many success stories ahead.
C2C was founded from listening to the wants and needs of adult learners, and this is a core value for our program. As we look ahead to 2022 and beyond, we are certainly going to continue listening and growing the program to better support Mississippi adult students.
Ready to write your story?
If you’re a MS adult with a few college credits but no degree, you should learn more about the improved C2C grant. You or someone you know could complete a college degree with help from the C2C program!