Should I stay or go? College students talk about making Ohio home or leaving the state

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Should I stay or go? College students talk about making Ohio home or leaving the state

The 18-year-old Malone University freshman who is studying to become a clinical social worker is headed to Texas after graduation.

“The job I want, the starting salary is higher there than it is here,” she said during a recent interview on the campus of the Christian university in Canton. “Plus, the weather is more sustainable.”

A Cleveland native, Simmons has an older sister who plans to move to Pittsburgh, and an uncle who moved to Los Angeles. In her mind, there’s not much Ohio can do to keep her.

Why are young adults leaving Ohio?

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While no state ever retains all of its college graduates, the exodus of educated young adults from Ohio has become worrisome – especially in a state where more people died than were born last year. It’s the first time that’s happened since Ohio started keeping such records in 1909.

Despite a surplus of job openings – there were 10.6 million openings in November and 6.4 million unemployed in December – Ohio is consistently losing 10% to 40% of its college graduates to other states. The reasons why vary.

Ohio officials fear it could get worse

Late last year, state Rep. Jon Cross, R-Kenton, introduced a bill designed to provide incentives to keep some of the state’s college graduates from moving elsewhere. The proposals range from allowing college graduates to forgo paying income taxes for three years to forgiving college loans to out-of-state students seeking degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics if they are in the top 5% of their class and they remain in Ohio after graduation.

The Times-Reporter, Canton Repository and other USA Today Network newspapers in Northeast Ohio visited college campuses across the region to talk with students about what could keep them from leaving the Buckeye State – if anything. Here are their comments:

‘Many graduates . will move because they want a different change in their life.’

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Job opportunities, higher wages, nice weather and a desire to experience living in another place may draw Ohio’s college graduates to other states, said 19-year-old Kayla Dyer of New Philadelphia, a business management major at Kent State University at Tuscarawas.

“I think that college students are more likely to leave Ohio after graduation because of more areas for jobs with better income,” she said. “Dense, more metro areas allow for more jobs and higher wages for all types of workers.

“However, I don’t believe that college students are leaving Ohio just for better wages and more opportunities. I think a lot of it has to do with where we are located. Many graduates, whether they are from Ohio or a different state, will move because they want a different change in their life.”

“I think it happens everywhere,” Dyer said. “Many Ohio graduates who have been in Ohio their whole life might want to move to a different state for another opportunity or for a change.”

“In this generation, more graduates want to travel and work where the weather is nicer and there are more things to do,” she said. “Unless you live in big cities or live around areas that bring in lots of different varieties of cultures and opportunities, people will always find a reason to leave no matter what is done to try and get them to stay.

“Whether Ohio creates tax breaks or gives away scholarships for Ohio grads, I don’t think that is going to change the minds of these young and spontaneous individuals.”

‘I’ve thought about possibly leaving the country.’

Alex Keller, a 22-year-old, fifth-year senior at Malone in Canton, said his future might go beyond America’s borders. He’s planning to work in immigration.