The type of institution students attend may determine where—and how far—they move after graduation, finds a new report by labor analytics company Emsi and the Wall Street Journal.
To create the report, Emsi analyzed 100 million resumes and online profiles to build a database of 3,740 schools across the United States, including community colleges, state universities, elite institutions, and online schools.
The report suggests that graduates of community colleges tend to stay closest to their alma mater, while graduates of elite schools tend to flock to big cities—regardless of their distance from the institution.
More specifically, the average community college grad stays within 300 miles of the college, the vast majority stay within the school's county or neighboring counties, and 61% live within 50 miles of campus.
The report notes that "[t]rue to their name, community colleges are built around serving the needs of local students and employers," and curriculums are often tailored around the needs of the local economy. "This makes community-serving institutions very compelling from an economic and workforce development point-of-view," the report adds.
Graduates of state universities also stay close to their alma maters—generally within state lines. The average grad lives within 330 miles of the university, and 40% stay within 50 miles of campus, according to the report.
State universities are tailored around serving the needs of the state, and often partner with local employers to create educational programs and job pathways. For this reason, state universities tend to appeal to in-state students who plan to remain in the state after graduation, the report reads.
But graduates of elite institutions tend to flock to major economic hubs—with a slight preference for the hub closest to their alma mater. The migration patterns for grads of elite universities are almost indistinguishable, no matter where the university is located, the report suggests. For example, the same four cities appear among the top five destinations for graduates of Stanford University, Georgetown University, and Northwestern University.
And as you might expect, grads of online colleges tend to live all across the country, with more than 60% living more than 500 miles away from the college's central location.
It's no surprise that communities want to retain their valuable college grads. But some states are better at retaining grads than others. According to the report, Texas has the strongest retention rate (more than 60%) for college grads, followed by Georgia, Washington, and population giants California and Florida. Meanwhile, New Hampshire, West Virginia, and Vermont have the lowest retention rates, with less than 30% of students choosing to stay after graduation (Sentz et al., Emsi report, 2018).
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