When students first get to Ohio State, many never want to leave. But as graduations nears, students hoping to start a chapter in a new city drain recent graduates from Columbus.
A recent study from the Brookings Institute revealed promising results for the city of Columbus. According to an article on the institute’s website by William H. Frey, the poor job market for young adults has led to increasing numbers of individuals ages 25 and older with college degrees staying put.
The study said Columbus has been gaining adults with college degrees at a rate of .16 percent over the past three years. From 2005-07, though, Columbus was losing these college graduates at a rate of .23 percent.
The Brookings Institute is a nonprofit, public policy organization based in Washington, D.C., and the article analyzed data from the American Community Survey, which the U.S. Census Bureau conducts.
The American Community Survey is an ongoing yearly survey, which helps to determine how more than $400 billion in state and federal money will be distributed to communities each year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau website. About 3 million random addresses are selected each year to participate in the study and those people are asked to provide responses to 11 factors including age, sex, race, income and benefits, education and where they live.
Zhenchao Qian, a professor and chair of sociology at OSU who specializes in migration and residential mobility in the U.S., said the increase in Columbus migration could be the result of two factors.
First, the job environment during the economic downturn was relatively stable in Columbus compared to some other metropolitan areas, such as Cleveland, which faced negative migration rates, Qian said.
And second, when jobs are fewer, fewer college graduates are likely to move away and look for jobs elsewhere. He also said evidence shows young adults are more likely to live with their parents to save money and ensure financial security.
Qian said in an e-mail that he based his statements off of his own project that uses Census and American Community Survey data. The data shows the highest percentages of adults living with parents is during 2007-09.
Dan Williamson, spokesman for Mayor Michael B. Coleman, said in an interview that Coleman’s main focus is creating new jobs and providing a quality life in Columbus.
Williamson said Coleman often engages with young individuals to find out what will keep them in the city and, if they choose to leave, what their reasons are for doing so.
Next Generation Consulting ranked Columbus 10th on the 2009-10 list of hot spots for young professionals to work and live in the U.S.
Factors other than the economy also play a role in the decision a college student makes to stay or go.
Brittany Sanlo, a third-year in family studies, said she plans to attend an accelerated nursing program in Florida, Texas, Nevada or South Carolina directly after graduation. She said she chose these areas for better weather and a change in lifestyle.
If she does end up in Ohio, though, Sanlo said she would definitely choose Columbus over any other city in the state.
Sanlo isn’t the only one eager to escape the less than perfect Ohio weather.
“Initially, I would like to stay in Columbus after graduation. However, I’d eventually like to move down south to the Carolinas,” said Melissa Lubert, a third-year in accounting.
Although the weather drives some people away, the city of Columbus keeps many of its young citizens happy.
Naren Vellanki, a fourth-year in finance, said the city has a lot of racial diversity and loves to embrace it. He said he thought OSU is a strong asset to the city.
“It gives the people of Columbus something to cheer for, as well as a place to gain employment and education,” Vellanki said.
There are some programs that were established to make life simpler for college graduates.
One such program is Grants For Grads. The Ohio Housing Finance Agency provides assistance to recent college graduates who are looking to purchase their first house. According to the OHFA website, anyone who is a first-time home buyer, graduated from an Ohio high school, meets the income requirements, and earned an associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s or doctorate degree within the past 18 months, is eligible for assistance. OHFA will issue a grant for 2.5 percent of the home’s purchasing price. The grant may be put toward the down payment, closing costs or other prepaid expenses incurred prior to closing.
Another program is Easycolumbus.com, a website launched in September 2009 to show college students the many reasons to stay in Columbus. The Columbus Chamber, Experience Columbus, The City of Columbus, The Columbus Foundation and the Dispatch Printing Company created the program, said Alison Pegg, multimedia director for Easy Columbus, in an e-mail.
Pegg described the program as an “attract and retain initiative for college-age students in Central Ohio.” She said it impacts the decisions of college graduates on whether to stay or go by letting them know what all Columbus has to offer including places to shop, eat and attend events.
Pegg referred to the city of Columbus as “a diverse, young, cool city.” The website is designed to inform individuals about events they might not know about otherwise.
Sanlo said there is always something to do and somewhere to go in Columbus.
“I have lived here year-round for almost three years now and I have never thought ‘I’m bored,'” Sanlo said.