State Colleges and Universities Struggling to Avoid “Brain Drain”

TalkingEDUSmall.jpgHistorically, state colleges and universities’ missions have been to educate their own residents; however, out-of-state students comprise an increasing percentage of students at state schools.  According to Department of Education data, the number of out-of-state freshman at state colleges and universities has nearly doubled since 1986, and these numbers are hugely impactful on many school’s enrollment goals and are concerning to state schools attempting to recruit students. 

The New York Times published two informative articles this past year that focused on the biggest winners and losers of state universities in their competing efforts to attract out-of-state students. These articles, along with others, discuss schools' ambitions to draw out-of-state attendees and discuss the successes and failures of reported schools.


Successes include:

  • Sports culture reaches a wider audience
  • Focusing on high test scores brings in an elite group of students
  • Geography: Nearby states offer diversity while still allowing students to commute
  • Recruiters focused on out-of-state enrollment dedicated to the task

Failures included:

  • Casting too wide a net
  • Lack of information to students to showcase available funding assistance (local scholarships, etc.)
  • Overlooking students who do not meet the top 10% of their class ranking

Nick Strayer’s companion piece “The Great Out-of-State Migration: Where Students Go”  uses great pictorials which show the migration of student state by state.  Strayer graphically illustrates the “exodus of public university students in proportion to numbers of freshmen leaving their home state to attend public universities in other states.” In addition to a national map, this informative article depicts the flow of freshmen students in every state. The maps show both where students come from and what states are successfully attracting students.

To read the complete articles and learn more about the out of state attraction tactics that have benefited other schools, click the following links:

Out-of State Students: Winner and Losers

The Great Out-of-State Migration: Where Students Go

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