By Kate Downes
Mississippi is consistently ranked as one of the worst states in the country for economic growth, employment opportunity, education, healthcare, and overall public health. Facts like these cause many people to stereotype the state as a whole.
To many people who don’t live in the South, Mississippi has an overall stereotype of being uneducated, overweight, poor and racist. In my nearly two years of attending college in Mississippi, each and every stereotype I had about the state has been challenged.
I have found Mississippi to be rooted deep in culture, but slowly continuing to develop into a modern society. Although I attend school in a college town, I am surprised that Mississippi is not as rural or uneducated as I thought.
I think it is easy for people to stereotype the state if they have never traveled to it. Although Oxford is only one town in the whole state of Mississippi, it has helped me challenge my previous stereotypes.
Coming from upstate New York, my parents were worried about me adapting to the Southern lifestyle and my overall health and wellness. Parents letting their child attend school over 16 hours away from home is uncommon, and adapting to a completely new lifestyle and culture is a tall task.
But, I am extremely happy that I spent two years here. Mississippi has an amazing culture and way of life that not many states have. In New York, there is an ever changing norm and no sense of past culture. The most amazing thing about Mississippi is the residents’ sense of pride in the fact that their culture has slowly changed, but it continues to stay true to how life was even 10 years ago.
Coming from New York, I was asked consistently why I decided to attend college in a state that is known to not be a “good state.” Not only do everyday people carry these stereotypes, the media perpetuates these stereotypes when they report things like the controversy over the state flag.
I have found that it is not fair to judge the state based on a few stereotypes that I knew about before I attended college, but to judge the state on its people. I have found Mississippi natives to be extremely welcoming, kind, and they care about making a good impression.
I have come to appreciate aspects of my life in Mississippi that I did not think I was going to enjoy, like the pace, the food and the people. Mississippi is the type of place where a tourist needs to live, then they will understand the appeal of living in it.
I received a variety of answers from people around me about Mississippi. One of the more popular answers I got is “boring.” For me, this is one of the concerns I had attending college in Mississippi.
I grew up in the third highest populated state in the country that continues to grow. With the large population comes new businesses and an ever increasing amount of things to do.
In my time in Mississippi, I have found there is something to do everyday, but one has to be willing to try. For me, there is now so much appeal in living in Mississippi, because I have learned to adapt to the pace and calmness.
My marketing campaign “Making it in Mississippi” would target young students from all different cities and areas of the country who are considering attending college in a new place in the U.S. I think it is an amazing thing when people from all over the country are willing to try and spend four plus years in Mississippi for their education.
In my marketing campaign, I would promote and highlight some of the amazing things Mississippi has to offer young college students. One of the deciding factors for me attending college in Mississippi was getting in touch with older Ole Miss students and hearing their stories and experiences.
Creating a blog where potential Ole Miss students can read posts from students who are from all over the country could help increase enrollment at the university. I want to share my experiences of coming from New York and moving to Mississippi to help other students step outside their comfort zone and try something educationally new.
I think it is an amazing opportunity to attend college in a whole new part of the country, and I want other people know what life is like in Mississippi. By asking students from all over the country to write a blog post about their experience and share it on social media pages like Facebook or Twitter would help the website become popular. Also having the school sponsor a blog page about different students’ experiences would continue to help popularize the page.
Not only could Ole Miss do this as a university, but other colleges in the state, like Mississippi State or Southern Mississippi, could do the same. Obviously having out-of-state students attend college would be good for the state’s overall economy and also benefit all of the universities that would promote the blog.