Ohio Grads and Marketing Websites

I only saw one car on the road during my hour run in the snow and cold this morning. Must be a holiday. And it was great. Gave me a lot of alone time to think about things. For instance:

  • Given this new era of transparency in Washington, shouldn’t the members of Congress and the public have had a little more time to take a look at what is really in the nearly 1,100 page $787 billion economic stimulus bill? The House approved a resolution last Tuesday that promised that legislators and the public would have 48 hours to take a look at the package before a roll call vote. But last Friday the deal was done less than 24 hours after House and Senate conferees reached agreement. So it goes. Anybody totally sure what is in this package? And the bigger question: Anyone really confident it will work?
  • I guess someone with the Associated Press took the time to look at the details. In a report printed in The Plain Dealer yesterday, it looks as though “millions of workers can expect to see $13 extra in their weekly paychecks, starting around June, from a new $400 tax credit to be doled out through the rest of the year.” Wow. Even if you double that for two-income families that strikes me as better news for Starbucks than for the housing and auto industries.
  • Given our new era of personal responsibility and ethical conduct, does the latest flap involving newly appointed U.S. Senator Roland Burris meet the smell test? Appears the senator was asked for a campaign contribution by the brother of ex-Gov. Blago. Good luck explaining that in the coming weeks and months.

So when I came back from my run I was going to write about one or more of those items in more details. But then I saw the front-page headline in the Akron Beacon Journal dead-tree edition: “Web site attempts to retain graduates.” Followed by: “Trumpeting area’s virtues may prompt them to stay.” Here’s from the story by Paula Schleis:

Is a Northeast Ohio college student more likely to stay in town after graduation if she’s fallen in love with the park system, built fond memories at area entertainment venues, finished internships with local companies and created ties with people off campus?

A new Web site will test that theory.

Today, Cleveland Plus Marketing Alliance launches PlusCollege.com at http://www.pluscollege.com, aimed at 180,000 students attending 25 institutions.

Well, you be the judge of that marketing premise. Something tells me that jobs are more likely to keep grads here than fond memories at area entertainment venues and so on. But truthfully — I would like to believe this would help in some way at least. And if the Gund Foundation has $40,000 to toss at it — well, go for it.  During the last 40 years or so, I have been involved in several marketing programs aimed at “selling” Northeast Ohio as a great place to live and work. I believe that actually. And there are many smart, dedicated and enthusiastic people working on this kind of marketing and outreach every day. It’s tough going for a variety of reasons.

Saying that — I’m a little troubled by a short sidebar story that accompanied the main one about the new website. It’s titled “Staying Home.” I can’t find it on the ABJ website, so here goes:

The percentage of Northeast Ohio college graduates who remain in Ohio six months after graduation varies by type of institution and type of degree.

Here are some highlights from a March 2008 Ohio Board of Regents report looking at retention rates from 2001 to 2006:

  • Northeast Ohio community and technical colleges retained between 85 and 91 percent of their graduates, and university regional campuses retained from 80 to 93 percent. The state average was 88 percent for both.
  • For bachelor degree recipients from university main campuses in Northeast Ohio, 79 to 83 percent stayed in Ohio. The state average was 76 percent. (Kent State University, 80 percent; University of Akron, 83 percent.)
  • Among most private colleges in the region, 70 to 80 percent of graduates with bachelor degrees stayed put. However, the range in this category was very wide — 37 percent at Oberlin, 53 percent at Case Western Reserve University, 62 percent at the College of Wooster, 77 percent at Malone University, 83 percent at Ursuline College.

OK. Those are retention numbers six months following graduation. Still, except for those involving the private universities, the numbers seemed high to me.  So I checked the Strategic Plan for Higher Education 2008-2017 submitted by Eric Fingerhut, chancellor, Ohio Board of Regents. Somewhat different picture here.

In the report, Fingerhut outlines three goals for the university system of Ohio. One of the goals: keeping graduates in Ohio. The percent of graduates living in Ohio three years after graduation: 66.26 percent currently. The target by 2017: 70 percent.

If I am missing or misinterpreting something here please let me know. Because I think the difference between these two sets if numbers — at six months and after three years — says that plenty of college grads — the people we need in Northeast Ohio and throughout the state — are leaving because they can’t find jobs here  or they find better ones out of state. If true, it’s going to take more than a website listing fond memories and favorite coffee shops to turn that situation around.

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5 responses to “Ohio Grads and Marketing Websites

  1. I must be out of touch (duh!). Isn’t wanderlust a factor among the four-year folks? Sometimes you have to get out of Dodge to see the world and live it. Perhaps another factor should be getting them back after they’ve seen Paris or LA.

    But I agree: jobs and a sense of community drive migration.

    • Doug,

      I agree. I’m sure there is always a certain amount of “the grass is always greener” at work here. I came to Northeast Ohio/Kent State from Pittsburgh 40 years ago. And I’m glad I stayed here. Good place to live and raise a family. But I also had a job at BFGoodrich for nearly 30 years that I couldn’t match most other places. Not sure how many young grads can say that — or feel that way these days. That might be an interesting story.

  2. I agree. My oldest daughter is in Orlando after graduating from Mount Union in 2005. She had done a Disney internship, and they had jobs available. My son graduated last year with a chemistry degree from Westminster in western PA. He is getting his HS teaching certificate at U Akron, and ready to move out of state for a teaching job if necessary. Neither are pioneers, but are interested in working and will move to where the jobs are. Whether its wanderlust or getting them back after a time, it will still be about job availability. Not only have the BFG jobs changed dramatically, when you get to +55, you’ll most likely be invited to exit. Substitute “jobs” for “economy” in the old Bill Clinton campaign motto. Another website devoted to the advantages of living in NEO is most likely not the answer, even when targeted at 20 somethings. Incidentally, did you notice the money didn’t get spent in NEO.

    • John,

      My son and daughter are in the same situation. Both in education; both living elsewhere. And I did notice that a Boston-based firm designed the website. That’s another whole story. Unfortunately.

  3. In a lot of ways wanderlust is the privilege of the circumstances that Brian and I grew up with–as did many of my HS classmates. I love NE Ohio. It look me well into my 20s to understand that, but I really do. And still, I’m living in Europe now (and of course I adore it) but even if I wanted to move back, there is not a job for me in NE Ohio teaching at a University (where I can have health and retirement benefits). Unfortunately, when I do come back to the states, I’ll probably not be looking to find a job in education, let alone, in Ohio.

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