Going Away to College: Study of 350,000 High School Graduates Reveals College Migration Trends

72% attend in-state colleges, 58% stay within 100 miles of home, but major differences appear across states, colleges, and student quality.

PR Newswire

PITTSBURGH, June 4, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- With the high school class of 2014 set to graduate and head off to college, Niche, one of the nation's largest content providers, today released a new study titled "Going Away to College" that reveals new insight on how far students are traveling, what factors affect their distances, and the colleges attracting students from the farthest away.

Photo - http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20140604/94181 

The findings stem from 350,000 Niche users between 2012 and 2014 that had both a U.S. high school and a four-year U.S. college association.

"After 12 years of helping millions of students choose a college, we have the unique opportunity to provide insight into where and how they're moving to attend school," says CEO Luke Skurman. "This study is one of the first of its kind to sample such a large group of college-bound students and analyze the relationship between distance traveled and SAT scores, state residence, and college quality."

The key findings of the study show:

Most Students Stay Close to Home

58 percent of U.S. high school graduates go to a college within 100 miles of their hometown; 72 percent of students stay in-state. Only 11 percent of students venture more than 500 miles from their hometown.

Click here to see the full results.

Higher-Achieving Students Venture Farther

Students with higher SAT scores tend to venture farther from home. Students with at least a 2100 SAT score traveled more than 500 miles on average and were more likely to go out-of-state for college. Students scoring between 1200 and 1500 only traveled an average of 192 miles.

Click here to see the full results.

Top 25 Colleges with Students Farthest from Home

Although most students stay close to home, many elite colleges have incredible pull nationwide. Niche analyzed more than 1,200 colleges to determine the schools attracting students from the farthest distances.

The Top 25 list is comprised of several unique liberal arts colleges, prestigious art schools, top military academies, and some of the most elite academic institutions.

1.      Reed College – 1,357 miles (average distance traveled)
2.      United States Military Academy at West Point – 1,209 miles
3.      Stanford University – 1,095 miles
4.      Rhode Island School of Design – 1,085 miles
5.      Sarah Lawrence College – 1,066 miles

Click here for the full list of Top 25 Colleges with Students Farthest from Home ranking.

More than Half of Graduates in New England Go Out of State, and Major Differences Exist Across States Nationwide

New England and Mid-Atlantic states export the highest percentages of college-bound seniors. However, many factors likely impact whether students stay in state, including income levels, K-12 school quality, college cost/quality, and proximity of nearby colleges.

Our study found that more than 64 percent of high school graduates in Vermont and 58 percent in New Hampshire go out of state for college. Connecticut comes in third place at 52 percent. By contrast, only 16 percent of high school seniors in Arkansas travel out of state for college.

Click here to view the full study results, rankings, infographics, and the full methodology.   

About Niche
Niche is transforming the way people make big life decisions. By providing insight and analysis from everyday experts, we make choosing a college, K-12 school, or place to live a more transparent process. From our founding in 2002 as College Prowler to our coverage on more than 250,000 schools and places, Niche's rapidly expanding presence continues to empower users to find their niche and thrive within it. For further information, visit http://www.niche.com.

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