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College Degrees - AR versus MS


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I just heard on the radio today that recently released data indicates that Mississippi has now moved ahead of Arkansas in the percentage of residents with college degrees, and that Arkansas is now only ahead of West Virginia. All I can say is wow. I find this somewhat shocking, with the expansion of so many 2-year schools in AR and the vibrancy of both LR and (especially) NWA - lots of population growth, and primarily (or statistically significant) high-income college graduates.

Does anyone else find this surprising? What's been happening in MS? I know that Jackson seems adrift and as I understand it, Tupelo is the only area that is really growing at a significant rate (and its pretty small to begin with). The joke in Arkansas has always been "Thank God for Mississippi!" but how ironic that this now may be used on us! This is really depressing...we're losing ground to the 48th worst state. Ugh!

p.s. No offense to any MS residents here...in fact, congratulations!

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I just heard on the radio today that recently released data indicates that Mississippi has now moved ahead of Arkansas in the percentage of residents with college degrees, and that Arkansas is now only ahead of West Virginia. All I can say is wow. I find this somewhat shocking, with the expansion of so many 2-year schools in AR and the vibrancy of both LR and (especially) NWA - lots of population growth, and primarily (or statistically significant) high-income college graduates.

Does anyone else find this surprising? What's been happening in MS? I know that Jackson seems adrift and as I understand it, Tupelo is the only area that is really growing at a significant rate (and its pretty small to begin with). The joke in Arkansas has always been "Thank God for Mississippi!" but how ironic that this now may be used on us! This is really depressing...we're losing ground to the 48th worst state. Ugh!

p.s. No offense to any MS residents here...in fact, congratulations!

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I don't really find it all that surprising. We have a couple of factors working against us:

1) influx of new residents without degress. Be they retirees looking for cheaper living or immigrants (regardless of legal status). This waters down our percentage of degreed residents

2) lack of jobs requiring a degree. It's no secret that Arkansas universities turn out more degrees per year than there are jobs available in our state. Until we can change that, well, it's not going to improve.

Look for us to fall behind WV in the coming years unless we can find a way to get more knowledge based industry to locate here. WV, at least in the eastern panhandle, is exploding at the seams from DC area commuters.

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I don't really find it all that surprising. We have a couple of factors working against us:

1) influx of new residents without degress. Be they retirees looking for cheaper living or immigrants (regardless of legal status). This waters down our percentage of degreed residents

2) lack of jobs requiring a degree. It's no secret that Arkansas universities turn out more degrees per year than there are jobs available in our state. Until we can change that, well, it's not going to improve.

Look for us to fall behind WV in the coming years unless we can find a way to get more knowledge based industry to locate here. WV, at least in the eastern panhandle, is exploding at the seams from DC area commuters.

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I don't really find it all that surprising. We have a couple of factors working against us:

1) influx of new residents without degress. Be they retirees looking for cheaper living or immigrants (regardless of legal status). This waters down our percentage of degreed residents

2) lack of jobs requiring a degree. It's no secret that Arkansas universities turn out more degrees per year than there are jobs available in our state. Until we can change that, well, it's not going to improve.

Look for us to fall behind WV in the coming years unless we can find a way to get more knowledge based industry to locate here. WV, at least in the eastern panhandle, is exploding at the seams from DC area commuters.

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I think Little Rock and NWA are doing very well, but the rest of the state is doing extremely poor and that makes the whole state look bad. Adding more white collar jobs in LR and NWA will help, but it wont solve the problem until higher education can be taken more seriously in the rural areas. I am very familiar with rural Arkansas, and nearly all the emphasis there is put on athletics and very little on academics.

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I think Little Rock and NWA are doing very well, but the rest of the state is doing extremely poor and that makes the whole state look bad. Adding more white collar jobs in LR and NWA will help, but it wont solve the problem until higher education can be taken more seriously in the rural areas. I am very familiar with rural Arkansas, and nearly all the emphasis there is put on athletics and very little on academics.

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I posted this in Little Rock's Creative Class and I encourage this discussion to take place there. The Creative Class, as defined by Richard Florida, is synonymous with the knowledge worker. To remain competitive, Little Rock needs to grow its knowledge-based economy (i.e., Acxiom, Alltel, other IT start-ups, advertising and marketing agencies, architecture firms).
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The truth is Little Rock and NWA are the only places in the state that cater to white collar professionals period. Other 'cities' in the state like Ft. Smith and Texarkana lean heavily blue collar and retirement. The young people who grow up there and do get an education leave town the first chance they get because there is nothing there for them. Unfortunately, they usually go to Texas, not Little Rock or Bentonville.

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The truth is Little Rock and NWA are the only places in the state that cater to white collar professionals period. Other 'cities' in the state like Ft. Smith and Texarkana lean heavily blue collar and retirement. The young people who grow up there and do get an education leave town the first chance they get because there is nothing there for them. Unfortunately, they usually go to Texas, not Little Rock or Bentonville.
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I would disagree with this. If it were so, then Wal-Mart, Tyson, and JB Hunt wouldn't be three of the biggest employers of UofA grads. Beyond that, I would bet more grads move to Little Rock than anywhere outside of NWA, and by a large margin.

Razorback and Alumni clubs in Little Rock and NWA are larger than the Dallas Razorback club, with is the largest outside of the state.

Even so, the point remains true. We need more industry to keep even more of our grads at home. I still say it's a good problem to have when you are supplying too many college grads. It's much better than not being able to produce enough. That speaks to a whole other litany of problems, such as poor primary and secondary education systems and a population that isn't interested in bettering themselves.

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I posted data that showed clearly Little Rock itself is far ahead of virtually all cities in the South in this department. This number has nothing to do with Little Rock which is bringing the numbers way up and everything to do with very poor numbers around most of the rest of the state. Even relatively urban areas like Texarkana, Ft Smith and Hot Springs are putting up shameful numbers but you assume these are actually great compared to the swaths of rural Arkansas in the Southern, Eastern, and Northern parts that are far from a four year university and have very few college grads and few jobs to offer them.

I'm not sure two-year colleges are the answer. An associate's degree isn't much more valuable than a high school diploma.

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Well of course the idea is that kids continue on to a 4 year school after they finish community college. However, my very narrow personal experiences show that more often the community college is refuge for the kids who get over to Fayetteville and for whatever reason, be it money, lack of prepartion, partying, homesickness, general life, wind up needing to go back home. They never go back to the 4 year school though. I knew quite a few people who wound up taking that route in life and only 2 I can think of off hand who went straight to community college and then on to a 4 year school.

I would tend to think you're right. We need to make more 4 year schools available in the state and can some of these community colleges. They're too accessible and give people a sense that they've accomplished something but in reality they've only prepared themselves to finish the bachelors.

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The truth is Little Rock and NWA are the only places in the state that cater to white collar professionals period. Other 'cities' in the state like Ft. Smith and Texarkana lean heavily blue collar and retirement. The young people who grow up there and do get an education leave town the first chance they get because there is nothing there for them. Unfortunately, they usually go to Texas, not Little Rock or Bentonville.
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I think maybe the thing that is helping MS is their gambling and lottery, etc.

(Just to bring the topic all together)

Aren't Mississippi lottery revenues invested in higher education funding?

Arkansas has really missed the boat on lotteries. It wouldn't be an issue if we weren't surrounding on all sides by states with lotteries, and one with a lot of Indian casinos.

Arkansawyers gamble. Up until now, they have just been doing it in other states.

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I think maybe the thing that is helping MS is their gambling and lottery, etc.

(Just to bring the topic all together)

Aren't Mississippi lottery revenues invested in higher education funding?

Arkansas has really missed the boat on lotteries. It wouldn't be an issue if we weren't surrounding on all sides by states with lotteries, and one with a lot of Indian casinos.

Arkansawyers gamble. Up until now, they have just been doing it in other states.

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