Arlington, Va., and Washington, D.C., were named the first and third best cities, respectively, for recent college graduates out of the 100 largest cities in the country, according to personal finance website NerdWallet’s annual list of the best cities for post-bachelor’s degree students released March 28.
NerdWallet determined the rankings based on economic indicators and data obtained through census reports and unemployment numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Arlington boasts the highest percentage of college graduates in its 25-and-over age bracket of any city in the country at 71.5 percent. Arlington residents also have the highest portion of jobs in management, business, science and the arts at 67.1 percent, as well as the highest median salary of $72,406 for those with bachelor’s degrees 25-and-older.
D.C. ranked third, based on the 55 percent of its 25-and-older population that possesses a bachelor’s degree or higher. According to the list, the District attracts recently graduated professionals with its surprisingly high number of high-skill, nongovernmental job options. Of Washington’s residents, 60.5 percent work in management, business, science or the arts. D.C. residents 25 and older with bachelor’s degrees earn a median salary of $62,475.
Also high on the list were Madison, Wisc., Boston, Mass., and Minneapolis, Minn., ranking second, fourth and fifth, respectively. Twenty percent of each top-five city’s population is between the ages of 20 and 29.
NerdWallet noted that both Arlington and Washington are notable for their high rent costs, but contended that high salaries in both cities largely offset these costs.
Both Arlington and Washington are popular destinations for Hoyas after graduation. According to the Cawley Career Education Center’s First Destination Report, which details postgraduation outcomes, 26 percent of students who graduated in 2014 started full-time employment at a job in the District after graduation, the highest percentage of any city nationwide. Another 7 percent of Georgetown graduates found full-time work in Virginia.
The District was also the most popular location for students in the Class of 2014 pursuing graduate degrees after their undergraduate education, with 20 percent of students enrolling in postgraduate studies in D.C.
According to Cawley Career Education Center Executive Director Mike Schaub, the prevalence of federal jobs in the District, as well as the accompanying positions in government contractor and consulting firms, attracts many students after graduation.
Schaub also recognized that the potential benefits of life in Washington go beyond job opportunities.
“The D.C. culture, like Arlington, is vibrant and attracts recent graduates,” Schaub wrote in an email to The Hoya.
Theater major Elly Straske (COL ’16) said she plans to remain in the District after her graduation in May, even though she is a Florida native.
“I’ve loved being up north for school — there’s something about D.C. that makes every season beautiful, and that’s one of my favorite things about the place,” Straske said. “But more than that I still feel like I haven’t ‘done’ D.C. yet. Georgetown has been my life for the past four years, but I’m looking forward to actually living here and feeling more like a part of the city.”
Ryan Shymansky (COL ’16) will attend the Georgetown University Law Center starting next fall. He acknowledged that attending Georgetown as an undergraduate was a nice taste of the Washington, D.C. experience but said that pursuing a Juris Doctor at Georgetown’s law campus will bring a new experience of life in the capital.
“Going downtown to the law center next year is consequently going to seem much more evolutionary than revolutionary for me,” Shymansky said. “I’ll already know D.C. well enough, but I’ll be living much more as a part of the city at large than as part of the campus community I’ve become used to as an undergraduate.”
However, Staske also emphasized that high real estate prices and relatively sparse housing opportunities were a concern for seniors planning on staying in the D.C. area postgraduation.
“The idea of finding housing is super stressful, mostly because the cost of living is so high here,” Straske said.
According to Schaub, however, the popularity of the District and Arlington among young professionals can help alleviate difficulties with real estate.
“Many colleges throughout the United States have alumni chapters in the D.C. area, which creates an instant community,” Schaub said. “There are many options for shared housing and efficiency apartments in D.C.”