Where College Students Come, and Where they Go

College graduates, more than other people, are much more likely to travel far from home as adults. But not all states are equal; some states export a far greater proportion of their college-age population.

According to an article by Jenna Johnson in the Washington Post:

I created lists of states with “brain drain” and “brain gain” using data from the National Center for Education Statistics that show the migration of 1.4 million recent high school graduates who enrolled as freshmen at four-year colleges in fall 2008, the latest year available. Nationally, about three-fourths of students stay in their home state for college.

The top five brain drain states (states that send people out) are New Jersey, Texas, Illinois, Maryland, California, and Connecticut. (As Johnson put it, “Why is everyone from New Jersey?”) The top five importers of people are Pennsylvania, Indiana, Massachusetts, North Carolina, and the District of Columbia.

While the importation states are likely indicators of relative education strength (Massachusetts has 122 colleges; obviously it imports), it’s hard to know what to make of the export numbers. Most of this doesn’t seem have much to do with education policy so much as population. There are simply more people in Texas to export.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer