This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Screen-Shot-2018-05-16-at-9.59.45-AM-1024x582.png

The Wall Street Journal released an interactive front-page article yesterday showing where the nation’s college graduates move to after receiving their degrees. Hint: It’s largely metro areas, but not always!

Our data analysts here at Emsi worked closely with WSJ to develop a database of 445 schools, including 115 “R1” research universities, all the NCAA D1 basketball institutions, and the top 100 liberal arts colleges. We collected information covering the past 10 years from 30 sources, including resumes and social profiles.

The interactive nature of WSJ’s article quickly took social media by storm, garnering the attention of reporters from WSJ, USA Today, The Atlantic, and more. It also caught the eye of award-winning higher education strategist, Jeff Selingo. By mid-afternoon, it was trending on LinkedIn.

So Why All the Hubbub Over Alumni Migration?

Well, between cities trying to attract talented workers and universities trying to track their alumni, this kind of detailed data is highly sought after in today’s market.

Universities whose alumni are largely drawn to one or two cities might consider building partnerships with companies in those metros. Metros or companies in need of certain talent can see which universities they should target for recruitment.

A Few Key Findings:

  • Finance, tech, and government centers draw heavily from Ivy League schools.
  • The biggest cities don’t always draw the most alumni. San Francisco, for example, ranks 11th in population but 5th in what WSJ calls “drawing power.” D.C. is 6th in population and 2nd in drawing power.
  • New York City is top dog, unsurprisingly. It attracts 2% or more of the alumni from 263 schools.
  • For 62 schools (many of them state colleges or universities), more than half of their alumni move to smaller metros and rural areas.
  • NCAA Big East conference alumni flock to the cities, while SEC alumni head largely for smaller cities and rural areas.

Essentially, more information leads to better decisions. That is, indeed, a driving factor in our work here at Emsi. And this kind of interactive data tool aligns with our core mission of connecting people, education, and employers to drive prosperity for all.

Thank you to WSJ for working with us and creating such a great tool!

For more information about Emsi or our data, contact Rob Sentz at and follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.