Soon-to-be Graduates: The Decision to Leave or Stay in WV

Date Posted: 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

WDTV - Keeping college graduates from leaving our state has been an on-going effort by many people. Now this 'graduation season,' it's especially on folks' minds as young people make the decision: Should I stay or should I go?

For soon-to-be Davis & Elkins College grad and ceramic artist Matt Zorn, coming back to the state after graduate school will depend on his career options.

"I might come back to West Virginia," he said. "It basically depends on teaching opportunities or opportunities to open up a small shop somewhere. [I'll] just have to see what it offers."

'What it offers' for career opportunities seems to be the big deciding factor. Zorn is from Doddridge County and his art has been influenced by his home. His sense of adventure is leading him to Louisiana for graduate school, but are the career prospects here enough to lead him back?

"A lot of my art has to do with West Virginia wildlife and nature around here and also political factors and environmental factors," Zorn said. "If it's a teaching opportunity in West Virginia, you know, if it's the right one maybe I should go for it."

The question 'should I stay or should I go?' is less of a question in the mind of Nicholas Akins, a soon-to-be medicinal chemistry grad from Tucker County. He leaves West Virginia in five days and isn't planning on finding a job here after his Ph.D. program.

"Even in the state there isn't a huge amount of places to work in a field like that," he said. "So it's just easier to go somewhere else."

His longing to travel is also leading him away, but his career prospects won't lead him back. Still he plans to take what he's learned from West Virginia to the school in Mississippi he says feels like home.

"It still has that small town feel," Akins said. "So I'm just gonna try to be nice to everybody like you're supposed to be and, you know, make sure everybody gets the same treatment."

According to a study from WVU's Bureau of Business and Economic Research, less than half of the students who graduated from public higher education in the last decade were working here in 2014. It says that's about 2500 more people than the year before that.