Goshen College contributes to Indiana “Brain Gain”

GOSHEN, Ind. While many Indiana college and university graduates take their diplomas and pursue employment opportunities in other states, contributing to the highly publicized “brain drain,” Goshen College imports more human capital to Indiana than it exports, concludes a study conducted this year.

Although 35 percent of Goshen College’s graduates called Indiana home when they enrolled in college, 37 percent of its graduates remain in the state more than five years after graduation, resulting in a positive”brain gain” for Indiana. The study, conducted by the Career Services Department, analyzed 713 graduates in four different class years between 1985 and 1997.
When John C. Yoder, a Goshen College graduate in the class of 2002 from Bryan, Ohio, and his business partners considered locations for launching a new business, they looked at possibilities in Colorado and Michigan before landing in Indianapolis.Now Yoder and his partners could not be happier with their decision. In fact, they are expanding the business – Furniture Outfitters at 8520 Castleton Corner Drive, on the northeast side of the city – to an additional location at 7257 U.S. 31 South. The business sells ready-to-assemble furniture manufactured by Sauder Woodworking of Archbold, Ohio.

“It has been a tough time for the economy,” Yoder said, “and yet we have been very successful. We’ve been fortunate to accomplish what we set out to do. We made a conscious choice to locate in Indianapolis because it didn’t have any stores of this nature.”

Yoder employs five other Goshen College graduates and recently made a commitment to continue living in the Indianapolis area by buying a house. He said he appreciates the city’s mix of small-town feel and big-city features such as the art museum, professional sports teams and a major airport. He said, “I’ll definitely remain in Indianapolis even if we expand out of the state.”

Shirley H. Showalter, Goshen College president, said, “Our graduates include leaders in the education, health and not-for-profit sectors of our state’s economy, and, increasingly, in business. A number of alumni have started thriving businesses that attract more recent graduates to remain in the state and become fully involved in its economic and cultural life.

“Nevertheless,” Showalter said, “as a college we can make an even greater effort to form partnerships with Indiana businesses. For example, this fall we are launching a Web-based career mentors program to enable students and alumni to form the kinds of relationships that will help build an even stronger state economy.”

Elkhart County, in which Goshen is located, attracts more Goshen College alumni than any other area of Indiana. More than 4,500 alumni live in the county, with most of these alumni having occupations in education (913), business (386), health care (305) and church service (98).

Educators Randy and Cynthia Zimmerly fell in love with each other and the state of Indiana while they were students at Goshen College in the mid-1980s. They have lived in Indiana since they graduated, and now have three children.

The Zimmerlys began their teaching careers in Goshen. Today, Randy is superintendent of schools at the Westview School Corp. in Topeka, Ind., and Cynthia is a first-grade teacher at Chandler Elementary School in Goshen. They have both earned master’s degrees in education from Ball State University, and Randy also holds a doctorate from BSU.

The Zimmerlys said they enjoy the qualify-of-life features of living, working and bringing up their children in northern Indiana. “We have found a great church and wonderful friendships,” Randy said.

The Indiana Human Capital Retention Project, conducted by the Indiana Fiscal Policy Institute in 1999, determined that “36.2 percent of Hoosiers leave the state after graduation [from college] and 89.2 percent of nonresidents leave. The state is a significant importer of high school graduates pursuing a college education, but clearly both sets of graduates contribute to a ‘brain drain’ or flight of human capital from Indiana.”

The project’s summary report notes that graduates leave the state “overwhelmingly” for employment-related reasons. Quality-of-life factors were cited by graduates as well, although the report states that graduates who chose to remain in Indiana also credited quality-of-life factors.

President Showalter said, “We have known for many years that Goshen College alumni contribute to the economic vitality and cultural fabric of Elkhart County and the State of Indiana. We are pleased that our research confirms that Goshen College graduates contradict the widely publicized ‘brain drain.'”

The web of interaction between college alumni and the professional networks they develop during their college years is illustrated by Aletha Stahl, associate professor of French and Francophone Studies at Earlham College in Richmond, Ind. After completing high school in Harrisonburg, Va., she enrolled at Goshen College and after graduating studied for her doctorate at the University of Iowa.

Later, Earlham College invited Stahl to help lead an off-campus program in Martinique, a French territory in the Caribbean; that eventually led to a permanent faculty posit.

“I was familiar with Earlham College due to athletic competition while at Goshen. My GC diploma was considered a plus when I interviewed at Earlham, and I also knew that I could live in Indiana,:” said Stahl. “My husband and I feel good about having settled in the Midwest.”

Editors: Research graph attached below. For more information about the study, contact Stuart Showalter, director of Career Services, at (574) 535-7008 or stuarts@goshen.edu.


Goshen College Students, 1985-97,

Contribute to Indiana Brain Gain

In Career Services, we have conducted research into the question of whether Goshen College contributes to or contradicts the highly publicized Indiana Brain Drain,” the label given to the pattern of students enrolling in Indiana Colleges and Universities and then going out of state for employment following graduation.

We discovered from our research into four class years examined at four-year intervals that Goshen College contradicts this pattern and demonstrates a modest Brain Gain for the state of Indiana. Content analysis of 713 student records indicates that 253 students entered the college from Indiana and 265 graduates from these classes remain in the state for a net gain of 1.7 percent. The sample class years were 1985, 1989, 1993 and 1997.

Year Number of students analyzed Number of students from Indiana Percent from Indiana Number of students now living in Indiana Percent now living in Indiana Percent change
1985 187 69 36.9 64 34.2 -2.7
1989 161 48 29.8 53 32.9 +3.1
1993 187 65 34.8 72 38.5 +3.7
1997 178 71 39.9 76 42.7 +2.8
Totals 713 253 35.5% 265 37.2% +1.7