Mar 15, 2022 - Business

Denver and Colorado Springs are top destinations for college grads

Where college students most want to live after graduation
Data: Generation Lab/Axios research; Map: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

Two Colorado cities rank among the top 10 places where college students want to live after graduation, according to the new Axios-Generation Lab Next Cities Index, which tracks rising U.S. work and culture trends through geographic preferences.

By the numbers: Denver landed at No. 4 and Colorado Springs at No. 9, the survey found.

  • Denver is particularly popular with men and political independents.

Why it matters: Spend any weekend in RiNo or LoHi, and you'll see that adults in their 20s are giving Denver new energy and fueling the city's makeover.

  • Moreover, the brain-gain of the educated newcomers is needed for a vibrant workforce.

What they're saying: "Immediate post-college moves are very important for cities," writes Richard Florida, a leading author and researcher, who noted Colorado's prominence.

  • "Educated young people are far more likely to move than other groups. … So places that attracted educated young people gain [a] lasting advantage."

The big picture: Half of the survey's respondents said they want to live outside of their home states post-graduation, while about one in four want to live in their hometown, Axios' Neal Rothschild and Erica Pandey write.

  • The other cities in the top five were Seattle, New York, Los Angeles and Boston.
  • Health care was the top industry choice for careers (29%), followed by education and research (15%) and tech (12%).

Be smart: The pandemic didn't dictate the destination calculus for any of the students interviewed by Axios. But the resulting explosion of remote work did shape some students' thinking about how far from family they choose to move — and whether work from home is all it was cracked up to be.

  • The ability to work from virtually anywhere is also adjusting calculations on the importance of moving to established Zip codes for specific professions — or whether that can take a back seat to preferences about a city's cultural, natural or ideological offerings.

Yes, but: Reality and dreams don't always align; 45% said they want to live somewhere different than they think they will live.

Methodology: This study was conducted in two waves from Nov. 18, 2021, through Feb. 14, 2022, from a representative sample of 2,109 students nationwide from 2-year and 4-year schools.

  • The margin of error is +/- 2.1 percentage points. The Generation Lab conducts polling using a demographically representative sample frame of college students at community colleges, technical colleges, trade schools and public and private four-year institutions.

This story first appeared in the Axios Denver newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard. Subscribe here.


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