With commencement coming up next month, the question of where the graduating students will be heading when their time at Keene State College is up remains.
According to Senator Jay Kahn during a press conference at KSC, 61 percent of New Hampshire high school graduates going to college entered out-of-state institutions, which he said was “the worst conversion rate among the 50 states,” according to an article by the Keene Sentinel. Also according to research uploaded by the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, only 36 percent of students in New Hampshire enroll in post-secondary education in-state.
New Hampshire College and University Council Director of Outreach and Communications Scott Power said that all this information can be tied back to the issue of college graduates remaining in-state.
“I realize all of this pertains more to college retention than post-college but I think it is all relative,” Power said. “Demographics in New Hampshire are such that the K-12 pipeline is shrinking, meaning that there are less prospective students for our colleges to draw from. With such a large percentage of New Hampshire students going to out of state schools, our New Hampshire colleges are forced to recruit more heavily from outside New Hampshire.”
When New Hampshire colleges have a large out-of-state student population, many students will go back to their home states to live with their families to save money, rather than stay in New Hampshire, according to current research. According to a survey by the job search site Indeed, 36 percent of graduating seniors plan to live at home at least one year or more upon graduating. Also, according to a study by the Pew Research Center, more 18 to 34-year-olds live at home with their parents than any other living arrangement.
Other than the money-saving benefits of moving back home, there are other reasons that both in-state and out-of-state graduates may choose to leave the Keene area. Stay Work Play New Hampshire is an organization that works to attract young people and recent graduates to New Hampshire. They conducted a survey in December 2017 to find the reasons why people choose to either stay or leave the state. Executive Director of Stay Work Play NH Will Stewart said there were multiple reasons people claimed they chose to leave the Granite State.
“There were a number of people who cited the largest reason was lack of career and job opportunities. As of today there are more than 19,000 open job positions waiting to be filled here in New Hampshire,” Stewart said. “I think there’s perception issues that there aren’t any jobs and that’s something that needs to be addressed.”
Other issues cited were lack of house affordability, lack of public transportation, lack of nightlife and entertainment options, lack of cultural diversity and lack of affordable and accessible childcare.
Despite this, Stay Work Play NH is still working to get people from their early 20’s to their 40’s to live in New Hampshire. Every Tuesday they post open job positions on all of their social media platforms. People can also visit their website for resources on things to do in the state both for work and for play. The organization is also working on creating guides that employers can give to potential new hires.
“We’re creating guides that employers can use when they’re looking to hire recent grads. We’re producing this so they can sell the region they’re in,” Stewart said. “Not only do we need to sell the job and everything that goes with it, but younger people want to know what is there to do when I’m not at work around here. We’re coming up with these guides to help employers answer those questions.”
The guides will also inform of the opportunities young people have to meet each other, like young professional networks, volunteer opportunities, different types of affinities like running club, community theatre, etc. to help them get connected.
KSC alum Bertrand Poirier is an outlier to these statistics as he decided to stay local to Keene after graduating in 1982 and taking two years away from the area to play soccer professionally. Poirier said he came back to Keene because of the overall quality of life and that is was a great place to raise a family.
“Quality of life always surfaces to the top for me,” Poirier said.
Stewart wants soon-to-be graduates to consider staying in New Hampshire if they haven’t already.
“I would encourage new graduates and even students graduating next year and in a couple years to take a look around. There’s more than meets the eye here in New Hampshire,” Stewart said. “Don’t dismiss New Hampshire out of hand. There’s a lot more interesting jobs than you think, people doing interesting things.”
Rachel Vitello can be contacted at