Feb 1, 2016

Freshman migration patterns or where students go when they enroll out-of-state—updated

West Virginia University

When students decide to attend college out of state, where do they go?  Surveys tell us they really don’t go too far.  They look to the familiar and pretty much stay within their region.

In fact, the 2014 CIRP freshman survey—UCLA’s annual survey of the nation’s entering students at four-year colleges and universities—suggests that over 55 percent of freshmen stayed within 100 miles of home in the fall of 2014.

And according to data gathered by the ACT, 2012 grads attended college a median distance of 51 miles from home, with only 22 percent traveling out-of-state.

So while that’s all very interesting, college-based enrollment managers want more detailed information about freshman migration patterns and how they might affect enrollment at their institutions. 

“IPEDS has finally released 2014 Fall enrollment data, and that means the bi-annual availability of freshman migration data,” explains Jon Boeckenstedt, associate vice president for enrollment management at DePaul University. 

And Boeckenstedt, a self-described  “tableau dabbler,” with detailed knowledge of the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) and the ability to make it yield incredibly interesting results, took “a stab” at documenting freshman travels based on 2014 data.

The resulting charts, which he has generously posted on his blog, provide an easy-to-understand trail of where students from a particular state tend to enroll when they travel out of state.

And you don’t have to be particularly computer-savvy to see what enrollment managers see using the interactive tools Boeckenstedt devised.  For the chart titled, “Which states export the most students,” click on any bar representing home states and see destination colleges listed below.  If you want more specific results, you can do that using the College Region or Carnegie filters on the right.

Selecting Virginia, all regions and any Carnegie classification, it’s fascinating to see that the top 15 colleges and institutions for Commonwealth students were:
  1. West Virginia University
  2. University of South Carolina-Columbia
  3. East Carolina University
  4. The University of Alabama
  5. Pennsylvania State University—Main Campus
  6. Coastal Carolina University
  7. Chowan University
  8. Clemson University
  9. Elon University
  10. Cornell University
  11. Brigham Young University—Provo
  12. High Point University
  13. University of Kentucky
  14. University of Mississippi
  15. University of Pittsburgh—Pittsburgh Campus
On the other end of the spectrum, no Virginians enrolled at Kean University (NJ), Neumann University (PA), and Nichols College (MA)—among others.

And for Marylanders, the top 15 were:
  1. West Virginia University
  2. York College Pennsylvania
  3. University of South Carolina—Columbia
  4. Virginia Tech
  5. Pennsylvania State University—Main Campus
  6. James Madison University
  7. University of Delaware
  8. Howard University
  9. Liberty University
  10. Coastal Carolina University
  11. Shepherd University
  12. Catholic University of America
  13. Hampton University
  14. The University of Alabama
  15. Delaware State University
A second view of the data shows individual colleges and where students came from.  You can select all students or just out-of-state students and the map updates to show both regions (color coded) and states (each square). For example, the University of Virginia enrolled 2,429 students or 66.44 percent of the total population from Virginia, nine from the District of Columbia, one from New Hampshire, one from Vermont, three from Nevada, two from Idaho and one from Wyoming.

On one level, these charts show which colleges actively recruit from or are open to students from particular states.  They also suggest a possible level of competitiveness.

But for students looking to buck trends, do a little trailblazing, or factor in a little “geographic diversity” to their college lists, these tools could provide some really useful information. 

In fact, they might give more adventurous applicants an idea of which colleges could be more inclined to take a second look simply because they get so few students from a particular state.

Nothing is predictive here, but if you’re interested in which out-of-state colleges and universities students from your state attend (or don’t attend), you might try cruising the interactive charts posted on Jon Boeckenstedt’s blog, including some additional views he created later.

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