This report is based on Emsi's database of over 100 million social profiles and resumes. To explore your own school's alumni, use our interactive tool below. If you'd like to learn more about the underlying data or access it for yourself, check out our Alumni Outcomes tool or contact us.
BY ROB SENTZ, MEREDITH METSKER, Paul Linares, AND JOSH CLEMANS
Your choice of college affects not only your academic career, but also where you live after graduation. We recently partnered with The Wall Street Journal to publish research on which U.S. cities draw the most college graduates. Hint: the big cities tend to dominate, but not always.
Now we want to consider some new questions. Where are the graduates of each school moving? How far do they tend to migrate from their alma mater? Does the type of institution affect these movement patterns?
Let’s turn to the data. For the WSJ article, we used over 100 million resumes and online profiles to build a database of 445 schools, including prominent research institutions, liberal arts colleges, and NCAA Division 1 schools. In this article, we’ll use that same methodology but widen the net to include online schools and community colleges. In total, we analyzed 3,740 schools.
- On average, a student who attends a community college will stay within 300 miles of the college and 61% live within 50 miles of the college.
- State university grads generally stay within state lines with an average distance of 330 miles from their alma mater, and 40% are within 50 miles of the university.
- Graduates of elite schools flock to the big cities and tend to move nearly 700 miles away from their universities. Nearly 40% are over 500 miles from the university.
- Graduates of schools with large (or fully) online offerings live all over the U.S., and over 60% are more than 500 miles away from their university's central location.
In the graphic below, we see the average migration distances for students of each type of school. However, for online schools, it’s not migration so much as students taking courses from their homes all over the country.
Here, we can see some similar migration patterns between each school type. Notice how they all group together between the 50-100 and 200-500 mile ranges.
Conclusion and Takeaways
Location after graduation is shaped not just by which school students attend, but the type of school they attend. Students who attend community college will likely stay local, while those pursing elite pedigrees will gravitate to major metros and big-hitting companies.
This information is useful for:
- Students and their families deciding which schools to attend
- Colleges and universities looking to understand their impact and reach
- Communities and employers evaluating the talent moving in and out of their regions
For educators, businesses, and communities, understanding where local talent moves can have a serious impact on decision-making and collaboration. Graduate migration patterns are just the starting point.
For more information about Emsi or our data, contact us.