If people vote with their feet, then Texas is a loser ... in the world of higher education. A journalist for the Washington Post crunched the numbers of the high school graduate college migration. The worst "brain drain" is in New Jersey. Texas is a distant second.

There are a bunch of tasty data morsels in this blog post. There's a link to an interactive map at The Chronicle of Higher Education:

Every two years, a U.S. Education Department survey of colleges and universities collects information about the migration of new full-time students, based on their states of residence when they apply. Use this interactive tool to see these movements in detail during a 16-year period for nearly 1,600 institutions.


As someone trying to analyze talent migration patterns, I find state-level data extremely frustrating. The institutional variable helps me drill down into the numbers a bit.

More importantly, the Post blogger disaggregates the net migration. New Jersey doesn't attract a lot of college freshmen from other states. But it's the number who leave New Jersey that impresses. As for Texas, a good comparison is brain gain winner Pennsylvania. The two states have a similar number leaving. The difference is the big deluge moving to PA for school, which is New Jersey-impressive on the other side of the ledger. When it comes to talent production, Pennsylvania is a winner.

Last nugget, brain drain is all relative:

Nationally, about three-fourths of students stay in their home state for college.


I see states and regions freaking out about brain drain with college graduate retention rates hovering around 75-80%. What's all the fuss about? Population. Ugh.