Where Are Recent Grads Moving?

Posted By Eliana Osborn on June 11, 2015 at 12:30 pm
Where Are Recent Grads Moving?

The trend for graduating college students these days is to head for the big city, at least according to new research from Ohio State University.  That’s a change from twenty years ago, when the freshly educated moved to fast growing areas no matter their size.  Today, though, concerning statistics about millennials and their high unemployment rates are causing new graduates to think more carefully about where they put down roots.

Doctoral and master’s degree students are less likely to look for big cities with lots of job opportunities, according to study author Michael Betz.  The vast majority of degrees each year are bachelor’s though, so this group’s trends are much more significant.  And in the face of employment struggles, it’s no wonder that those diving into the career market are upping their odds by going to major population centers.

Big cities, bigger job opportunities

For smaller communities that have tried for the past few years to lure young adults and recent graduates, evidence of the trend towards cities is a wake-up call.  The amenities of small-town life, outdoor attractions, thriving arts scenes, and other quality of life issues simply can’t compare to the basic need of finding a job.  If a town wants to attract new graduates, its best move is to bring in new industry.  Without job opportunities, most young people won’t take the risk of moving somewhere just because it seems like a good place to live.

A 2013 survey from Apartment Guides found that more than 70% of new college graduates were planning to move to a new city.  80% of those surveyed said they would move based on finding a job, rather than just going to a place they had dreamed of living.

Recently, the American Institute for Economic Research also released data about the most important factors new college graduates consider when choosing where to live. The top three factors are:

  1. A high density of people with a college degree
  2. A low unemployment rate
  3. The ability to get around without a car

All these requirements are easier to find in large urban areas, lining up with Ohio State University’s findings.

As students finish their years of higher education, they are ready to move forward into a new stage of life.  While they hope for fun and friends, today’s graduates are pragmatic, realizing that finding a job takes priority.  Smaller cities hoping to attract this crowd will need to find ways to boost their overall economies, rather than hoping trendy fixes will be enough.

Eliana Osborn
Eliana Osborn is an associate English professor at Arizona Western College, with degrees from Brigham Young University and Northern Arizona University. She’s published widely in forums such as The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Christian Science Monitor, and the Chronicle of Higher Education.

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