Mississippi State University president, Dr. Mark Keenum, met with juniors and seniors in advanced placement classes at Meridian High School.
The topic was the importance of getting a higher education. Despite the rising costs for college, Keenum told students there is money available to help them.
"We need our young people in Mississippi pursuing at least a bachelor's degree," said Keenum. "We rank too far behind in that area in the nation."
Meridian High officials say they are also vigorously encouraging students to pursue college degrees.
"This administrative team is really trying hard to let all 1,700 students here know that there are opportunities beyond high school, and that there is money available," said Shannon Ruffin, assistant principal at Meridian High School.
Keenum shared with students one way that money is available right here at home, through the Riley Next Step Scholarship. Students from Meridian Community College who qualify for this can attend MSU's Meridian campus for free.
"Get the associate's degree, but take that next step." Keenum advised students. "Get a bachelor's degree. It's a very competitive world that we live in. We need to have a more educated citizenry. It helps us attract the kind of jobs we want in Mississippi. It helps us retain our bright students to have opportunities in Mississippi."
Keenum is the fourth college or university president to visit the campus in recent months. MHS officials say similar invitations have been offered to college leaders throughout the region. More such visits are expected throughout the year.