A steady drain of collegians from Minnesota, but why?

  • Article by: JENNA ROSS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 27, 2011 - 7:17 PM

Minnesota exports more college-going kids than it imports.

About 14,500 Minnesota high schoolers who graduated in 2010 chose colleges in other states, while 10,600 students from other states chose a school in Minnesota.

So Minnesota had a net loss of thousands of students, a new report by the Minnesota Private College Research Foundation shows. Neighboring states drain the greatest numbers.

That's not new: These reports have shown this trend for years.

But they don't explain why.

One possibility, said Paul Cerkvenik, president of the Minnesota Private College Council, is that the state's high school grads are top-notch.

"Minnesota has a really good K-12 school system; therefore our high school graduates are really attractive to colleges all over the country," he said. "They have a lot of options."

Still, the trend could be troubling. As a 2009 research brief by the council noted: "If students who leave do not come back, this would result in an overall loss of graduates poised to enter the workforce."

"In an ideal world," Cerkvenik said, "we'd be better off as a state if we were a net importer of students."

But it's tough to tell if those who leave later return.

Studies in other states suggest that students typically stay where they get their degrees. Job opportunities often sway the final destination. Other data show that Minnesota brings in more people with degrees than it loses.

"We may not be losing overall," Cerkvenik said.

The new study lists which Minnesota schools attract the greatest numbers of out-of-state students. The massive Twin Cities branch of the University of Minnesota brought in the most. Next was Walden University -- which brings up an interesting point.

A big chunk of the students coming in were enrolled in online schools headquartered in Minnesota, such as Walden. So the gap between exports and imports might be even wider when you consider who actually lives here.

Jenna Ross • 612-673-7168

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