Empty nest syndrome

City struggles to keep students after graduation

Graduation marks a time in every Keene State College student’s life when they are forced to pack up their belongings, say goodbye to friends, and move on from the blissful debauchery that is the college experience.

However, some students choose to stay within the Keene area post-graduation.

Whether it’s affordable housing, well-paying jobs, outdoor activities or just plain fun, students are finding themselves staying in town for many different reasons.

KSC alumni Brian Rogers, who graduated last spring, said he was in between staying in Keene or moving to New York.

Sarah Morrison/ Equinox Staff

Sarah Morrison/ Equinox Staff

“I got two jobs, one in New York and one in Keene for NextGen [Climate] that I just couldn’t turn down. It was more or less a choice between paying cheap rent in Keene or going back home and living with my parents, or paying insanely high rent in an apartment outside of New York City,” Rogers said.

Rogers said he feels Keene was the right choice for him because he doesn’t need to worry about student loans as much as his friends.

“Because I opted to live in Keene, I feel far less trapped by student loans. My rent is fairly inexpensive, I’m making good money and I still have spare money for entertainment. Compared to living in New York, I wouldn’t have been able to eat or clothe myself because the cost of living is so much higher [there],” Rogers said.

Alumni Kenzie Travers, who also graduated last spring, said money was a large influence over her choice to stay in Keene as well.

“I live alone and it’s a little more expensive than living with a roommate, but with the money I make in Keene and my low cost of living, it all evens out,” Travers said.

However, students say separating themselves from the college lifestyle while remaining in the KSC environment is sometimes a challenge.

“At first, I felt like I never graduated because I was still here. I was partying with all my friends who still go to Keene and I still felt like a student, but I’ve definitely fallen back from [that]. You get to this point where you start to feel like the weird older guy at parties and you just get tired of that experience. I have a job and I have interns and volunteers. I have responsibilities now and the last thing people need to see is me partying,” Rogers said.

He continued, “I feel like I’ve grown up a lot staying in Keene.”

Olivia DiLeo, who is graduating in December and has plans to stay in Keene afterward, said she is already thinking about how to separate herself from the college lifestyle.

“I mean, I’m staying in Keene because all of my friends will still be here. I’m not ready to completely give up that lifestyle just because I’m graduating early, but I know I do have the responsibility to start thinking more like an adult post-graduation,” DiLeo said.

“As far as partying goes, I think I’m mature. There are some people who leave college and automatically feel like they need to get back, but I don’t think I’ve ever been that kind of person,” Travers said, “I’ve learned how to separate myself from my college life and now my adult life. I feel like there’s so much more to do in this area than college students realize.”

Travers, who works for the Keene Sentinel, said she has found much to love about the Keene community.

“Everyone supports each other. I love the ‘Local Matters’ aspect. Everyone is always buying local, supporting local and, even if they’re in a competing business, they’re always supporting each other,” Travers said, “I love walking down the street and seeing someone I talked to a few months ago and being able to say hi to them. I can point people out to my parents and tell them what shop they own or how they did it. Everyone knows each other and it’s a real community.”

Rogers said he enjoys the community aspect as well.

“I really love New Hampshire, I really love this town. There is a lot outside of the college that students don’t really get to experience until they’ve graduated. A good part of it, however, is how easy it is for me to feel like an adult without having to move back in with my parents like a lot of my friends,” Rogers said.

Senior Rebecca Innerfield said she is thinking about staying in Keene after graduation.

“I just love the town. It’s the reason I chose Keene State in the first place. The mountains nearby and all the little shops and everything that surrounds the city is something that you can’t find most places,” Innerfield said.

“I love this place. I just didn’t feel like I was ready to leave yet. Going to college here you have one sense of Keene, but it’s completely different and sort of expanded once you graduate. There’s so much more to do on the weekends and being part of such a strong community is something I think a lot of students should take into account,” Travers said.

Stephanie McCann can be contacted at smccann@kscequinox.com

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