College and Career Choices: It’s All About Location, Location, Location

Christie Garton
Founder and publisher,
Posted: January 19, 2011 04:50 PM writer Erin Cunningham is an underclassman at George Washington University. The following is a student’s assessment of how to better make long-term choices about college and career planning.

Some worry about landing the job of their dreams post-graduation. Others stress about how they’re going to pay off their college loans once they end their lives as students and become career professionals. But really, when we think about our future and what pros and cons go along with it, we soon discover many of these things are out of our control. However, one facet that may be highly influential to our career success and is typically overlooked by the average incoming college freshman is a simple one: location.

In reality, the outcome of your extended education could be simplified by choosing the perfect home for the next four years and then staying there once you receive your diploma (given your established residency). Searching for a state with the best career growth and the lowest cost of living are two viable factors in finding a hot geographic region for both school and work. By looking at the growth rates, average salaries, and cost of living in certain cities, the possibility of attaining a job post-college increases twofold.

According to, cities like Austin, San Antonio, Salt Lake City, Oklahoma City, Raleigh, and Seattle rank at the top of the list for best places to go if you’re looking to start your career, while the Missouri Economic and Research Center notes that states like Oklahoma, Texas, Tennessee, and Arkansas have the lowest cost of living. Factor in states that have the best career growth (again, Texas and North Carolina are high on the list), and what you have is simplified equation that will inevitably point in you in the right direction.

While this may be a lot to consider as a high school senior, the benefits of such research could not only help you save money in the long-run, but also assist you in better positioning yourself as an entry-level candidate once you graduate. Being able to say you’re familiar with a geographic region, don’t require relocation, and have established contacts in your field of choice are all strong selling points for corporate recruiters. Factor in the positive financial and psychological impact of staying near your social and professional contact base, and what you have is strong platform to build upon for future career success.

So should you be adding Texas A&M and Duke University to your priority list of schools you’re currently applying to? Maybe. Ultimately, it’s up to you to weigh the factors that you think will work most in your favor in regard to being a successful student and a future job applicant.

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