One of the most anticipated journalism articles of the year is the senior college map, showing where graduating seniors are going to college. Last year, now senior David Harrison conducted a ten-year statistical analysis of where, geographically speaking, Albany High School graduates go to college.
Harrison’s research reveals some interesting trends. Over this ten-year period, graduates ventured a bit further east from Albany and a bit further west from the Eastern seaboard when making college decisions. At the same time nearly all Albany High School graduates have been completely ignoring approximately 450 miles of the middle of the country.
So the obvious question is: How important is geography when making college decisions? And why do students avoid the portion of America from about 900 miles west of Albany to 1350 miles away?
An informal study of the Class of 2015 showed that 71% said they preferred California for college, with 76% open to the East and West Coasts in general, as long as they were near an ocean. Nearly 53% of respondents said they would avoid the middle of the country at all costs, while 47% said they would venture in that direction under certain conditions–such as financial aid or scholarship opportunities.
Percentages alone aren’t enough to fully understand this phenomenon.
Senior Yumi Song said that college location is important to her because, “everyone has their preferred climate.” Additionally, because Song is applying as an undecided major, she can’t narrow her college choice by majors, so her main deciding factor is location.
Senior Abby Shibiru said geography is “extremely important” when choosing colleges, preferring coasts and cities to the midwest which Shiburu said “freaks [her] out.”
Shibiru reasoned that if you’re going to be living in a place for four years, it’s important to enjoy the place you live.
Some seniors were more concrete in their desire to stay in California.
Said senior Leo Torrez, “Personally, I don’t want to be landlocked. I enjoy being on the coast.”
Moreover, senior Norbu Tenzing added, “I like the state, and my parents don’t really want me to move.”
California becomes even more enticing to seniors and their families when you consider in-state tuition compared to out-of-state.
Senior Madhur Sharma noted, “I wouldn’t have to pay as much to go to college in California versus paying three times more a year in an out of state school.” For Sharma, and many others, money is a huge factor.
Meanwhile, senior Kyle Cristin specifically stated, “Yeah it’ll be my first time away from home for like a super long amount of time so I don’t want to jump in and go somewhere super far away and leave my family. Family’s important.”
When asked if he would be willing to look into colleges in the middle of the country, Cristin responded, “Yeah for sure, I mean in the end it’s all about education, what I’m learning, so I could at least look into it.”
Senior Andrew Sterner said of geography, “It is a huge factor. I want a place with some snow, where I can snowboard.” He mentioned Southern California, the Northwest, the Midwest and the East Coast as the places he is most interested in.
Many students considering colleges on the East Coast or Midwest are not only concerned with acclimating to the physical environment, but also the cultural one. Sterner stated, “I want to experience a different culture. It would be interesting to be around new opinions and ideas”.
What is it about this 450 mile stretch that students find so unappealing? Stay tuned for this year’s senior college choices.