Data shows most alumni from SC schools stay in state after graduation

A map popular migration locations for alumni of South Carolina colleges. Provided by Emsi.

More than half of South Carolina’s college alumni stay in the state after graduation, according to data published by Emsi in October.

Emsi, a labor-market analytics company, released interactive data on alumni migration throughout the United States for 3,740 schools based on online resumes and profiles on websites such as LinkedIn, as well as data from employers, job postings, and institutions.

Emsi’s data shows 50 to 60 percent of the profiles analyzed for alumni of South Carolina schools stayed in the state post-graduation. In comparison, Texas has one of the highest alumni retention rates of more than 60 percent, while Vermont has one of the lowest, with less than 30 percent of graduates staying after graduation.

The data includes public and private universities, as well as community colleges and online schools.

According to Emsi, alumni from Clemson University primarily live in Greenville County, Pickens County, and Fulton County, Georgia. But interactive maps also show large clusters of Clemson alumni as far west as Los Angeles, California, and King County, Washington.

Map of migration patterns for alumni of Clemson University. Provided by Emsi.

The data shows something many South Carolinians likely already guessed — most alumni of South Carolina colleges live in either Greenville, Columbia, or Charleston, with Atlanta and Charlotte, North Carolina, the most popular out-of-state cities.

Overall, Emsi’s data showed that graduates of state schools tend to remain in-state after graduation, and more than 60 percent of community college graduates live within 50 miles of the schools.

Graduates of elite schools often moved to larger cities, with about 40 percent of grads living more than 500 miles from their schools.

Rob Sentz, chief innovation officer with Emsi, said the data was analyzed from more than 100 million online resumes, most of which had been updated in the last three or four years, and 3,740 schools.

“What we did was grouped all the migration data by different institution types, and looked at the differences in how far people traveled from where they went to school,” Sentz said.

Sentz said Emsi has been studying economic data and patterns for employers and colleges for years, but this is the largest migration data they’ve collected and organized nationally.

“It’s allowing them to see one of the outcome measures that’s really important, which is, are we exporting students out of the economy or keeping them?” Sentz said. “More than just location, we can actually see what kind of jobs they have.”

Looking at six of South Carolina’s public institutions — University of South Carolina, Clemson, Coastal Carolina University, College of Charleston, S.C. State University, and Winthrop University — nearly 12 percent of alumni live in Columbia.

The data shows several of the schools are also the top employers for alumni — Clemson University, University of South Carolina, and the Medical University of South Carolina are in the top five companies for employing their graduates, along with Wells Fargo and Bank of America Corp. The top program was business administration, management, and operations, from which 25 percent of alumni graduated.

For technical colleges in South Carolina, the top employer is Walmart, ahead of Anthem Inc. and the Army.


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