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New Data Shows Most UConn Grads From CT Staying In State

New Data Shows Most UConn Grads From CT Staying In State
Hartford Courant, Sept. 30, 2016

By Daniela Altimari

While U.S. Census data has documented a steady exodus of Connecticut millennials, new figures show that recent University of Connecticut graduates are likely to stay in the state.

Seventy-eight percent of in-state students who graduated from UConn and started work within the past year have remained in the state, James Lowe, director of the Center for Career Development, told the school's board of trustees Thursday.

"Despite what you may hear about young professionals leaving our state in large numbers, I can tell you that UConn students continue to be a critical factor in driving the economy of our state," Lowe said.

Those statistics, compiled by the career development office, tell a far different story than U.S. Census data, which found that more than 39,000 people aged 20-to-34 age moved out of Connecticut in 2014. That signified an increase of more than 20 percent from 2007.

At a time when lagging tax revenues and mounting expenses are putting acute pressure on the state budget, UConn highlighted its success at retaining alumni who stay in the state and become Connecticut taxpayers.

"We want to ensure that we're producing the kind of highly skilled, highly educated graduates not only to serve as [the state's] future workforce, but to be great citizens...[and] community leaders, most of whom, we hope, will continue to call Connecticut home," UConn President Susan Herbst said.

Herbst noted recent news reports that show Connecticut-based aerospace manufacturers are embarking on expansion efforts that will result in new jobs. On Wednesday, state lawmakers approved a deal that will provide Sikorsky Aircraft with $220 million in tax breaks and grants in exchange for the company's commitment to build helicopters in the state.

"When we see very positive news like Pratt and Whitney or Sikorsky setting really ambitious hiring goals for the future, we know that many many of those hires are going to be UConn graduates," Herbst said.

Out-of-state students staying too back to top

About 30 percent of out-of-state students who graduate from the university and find work within a year put down roots in Connecticut. The university is also hoping to boost that number.

"We're gratified that almost one-third of our out-of-state students decide to stay in Connecticut after graduation, but we always want to boost that number," university spokeswoman Stephanie Reitz said. "While they're with us, we work hard to expose them to the opportunities throughout Connecticut for great careers so can put everything they've learned to use here. Every student we can keep in this state is a benefit to Connecticut, both economically and in terms of alumni engagement with UConn."

As higher education costs continue to rise, UConn and most other schools are placing fresh importance on providing their students with career development skills. UConn recently revamped its career center, expanding its outreach and the number of programs it offers.

The center also begins interacting with students in their freshman year instead of waiting until they are poised to graduate.

Lowe cited statistics that show more than half of UConn graduates use the services of the career center.

"Students are increasingly more aware that career development is a process, not just a transaction. They're looking to us at every stage of their professional development journey, understanding that they're building the academic blocks to succeed in today's world economy," Lowe said.

The career center found that four out of five new UConn graduates found jobs or admission to graduate school within four months of leaving the university. A smaller percentage went into the armed forces or began public service programs.