Research Report: Retaining Graduate Students in Tallahassee

Retaining college graduates is key to a city’s growth and sense of place. The importance of young professionals’ contributions to economic mobility and entrepreneurial success cannot be overlooked. As a popular college town with three accredited universities, Tallahassee faces a unique challenge to attract graduates to live in the capital city after graduation. Tallahassee should combine its resources, career opportunities, and development plans with a priority of retaining recent graduates who experience a consistent pull toward bigger or busier urban cities.

A 2009 Knight Foundation study found that only 1 in 4 graduates from Tallahassee’s three major colleges were still living in Tallahassee after graduating between 2004 to 2006. Graduates tended to choose to remain in Tallahassee either to join the local workforce (85%) or pursue further education (15%).

The Knight Foundation Study also revealed that students frequently view Tallahassee as an exceptional place to be a college student, but highly disregard it as an exceptional place to live as a young professional. Students tend to be uninformed about local economic patterns, key employers, and local career opportunities. A common assumption made by recently graduated students was that Tallahassee does not offer as many professional opportunities as larger cities like Tampa, Miami, or Atlanta.

In response to this, a survey was created by Knight Creative Communities Institute’s intern Rachel Corry on the Qualtrics research platform. It was open to FSU students from February 18 to April 18, 2020. The survey received input from 45 FSU students about placemaking and community aspects that would make them want to continue living in Tallahassee post-graduation. Participants were also asked about their interest in bicycling and a future Bicycle Park in Tallahassee.

Read the report here: College Student Survey Research Report