To attract collegian residents, cities need diversity

Recent studies and results from the Census Bureau have shown that more and more college students are moving to some of America’s biggest cities, “chasing jobs and culture and driving up home prices,” causing cities in the Northeast and Midwest to fall behind the South and West in attracting educated college graduates.

Ned Hill, a Cleveland State University professor of economic development said that the “largest predictor of economic well-being in cities is the percent of college graduates.”

The presence of this highly mobile demographic group in urban areas is crucial for maintaining the number of well-paying jobs and for improving the “struggling public schools that must attract outsiders to improve education levels.”

Many U.S. cities struggling to recover from faltering manufacturing output, Detroit, Cleveland and Newark, N.J. are constantly searching for innovative ways to attract college grads to not only live and work in their cities, but also to stay after they marry and start having children.

One issue that decision-makers in these cities must address when considering how to attract college graduates is the atmosphere and working environment they provide for their potential residents.

One of the reasons why major southern and western cities have an easier time drawing in this demographic is the numerous opportunities they provide as well as the long term benefits that many of these college grads foresee after moving to these regions.

Higher pay rates, job security, and better public schooling for those looking to start families are factors to these individuals’ decision to work in these areas.

It is now necessary for employers to offer more than just the thrill of working in the “big city” when attempting to bring in new workers.

The highly competitive attitude of today’s college-educated person is one unparalleled of those graduating from universities years ago.

Members of this demographic now value the landscape of their environment: they seek communities with a good blend of residents, “a lovely mix of many races, straight people, gays, singles, older people, and younger people,” Molly Wankel said.

Wankel, a 51-year-old who moved from the suburbs in east Tennessee and now lives in the city, said the benefits of living in one of these large cities have superseded those she would have had if she sought employment in her hometown.

To overcome the problem of loosing college graduates who are willing to work in their area, city officials must work to improve the overall attitudes of these prospective employees toward their cities.

Michael A. McLaughlin is a sophomore public relations student from Tampa. He can be reached at