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Posted at 1:35 PM ET, 12/14/2010

Many college grads stay put. . . in Philly, at least

By Daniel de Vise

An interesting survey by the nonprofit Campus Philly finds that many more college graduates are choosing to remain in Philadelphia than a few years ago, a finding that has to bode well for the city's future.

A spring survey found 48 percent of recent alumni who had come to Philadelphia to study remained to live and work, up from 29 percent in a 2004 survey.

The 2010 Student Retention Survey questioned 4,600 students and recent alumni of schools in the Philadelphia region.

Demographers say the economic prosperity of a region can rise or fall dramatically with the settlement patterns of college students. A city that draws many out-of-towners to its universities profits handsomely if those students choose to stay. A city that loses citizens to out-of-town universities also loses brainpower. Washington is known as a demographic "parasite" in this sense: it draws smart young people from places like Minnesota and Iowa and Ohio, who attend Georgetown and George Washington and American University and then stay put, sapping those fine states of their brain trust.

D.C. folks apparently have not done any recent survey to ascertain how many graduates of their schools remain in town after graduation. But it's widely assumed that many of them do, and indeed that's one of the often-stated strengths of the local higher education market and a facet of D.C.'s status as a first-rank college town.

Philadelphia, of course, harbors the same parasitic hopes.

The city also has a constellation of schools at least as desirable as those in and around Washington, including the University of Pennsylvania and the formidable Swarthmore and Haverford liberal arts colleges.

Campus Philly essentially exists to encourage their students to fall in love with the city -- and then stay there.

An excerpt from the release:

"What's driving the increase? Students are more heavily engaged in the region while they are attending college in volunteer opportunities, in work off campus and in local cultural and entertainment activities. Also, many students enroll in Philadelphia colleges and universities because they heard that Philadelphia was a vibrant city with a lot to do."

The promoters proclaim Philly a rising college town, where a majority of students (58 percent, to be exact) hope to stay on after graduation.

A similar study of Baltimore students found, by contrast, that only 31 percent of students planned to stay, according to the Philadelphia folks.

"The fact that Greater Philadelphia is doing so well as a college town and post-college home is great for the region's economy," said Michael A. Nutter, Philadelphia's mayor, as quoted in the release. "With these graduates staying, we'll ensure Philadelphia and the region has a more educated workforce, lower unemployment and more businesses interested in coming to Philadelphia."

The study cited several liabilities hindering the city's further development as a college town, some of which clearly apply to Washington as well. They include high cost of living and low quality of housing opportunities. Philadelphia also has comparatively few internships -- well, in that area at least, Washington excels.

Follow College Inc. on Twitter.

By Daniel de Vise  | December 14, 2010; 1:35 PM ET
Categories:  Students  | Tags:  Philadelphia college graduates stay put; Philly college students stay; college alumni survey Philadelphia  
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Comments

>> A city that loses citizens to out-of-town universities also loses brainpower.

That would theoretically be true but Americans believe that they can buy brainpower from abroad and that Americans are inferior to some other peoples wrt some occupations (such as mathematical sciences and software development) and that people over a certain age are useless. In such a hostile environment people have to fend for themselves and that will require people to move around until and unless they find a secure environment. However there are fewer such secure environments in the current economic depression irrespective of one's perceived brainpower. In today's reality the concern strikes me as quaint.

Posted by: kirtu | December 14, 2010 5:01 PM | Report abuse

Philly is a hole.

Posted by: ProfessorPeabody | December 14, 2010 5:20 PM | Report abuse

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