College Grads: To Stay or Leave Dubuque

DUBUQUE РBrain Drain is a phenomena that describes college graduates leaving their state to go to another. With the job search underway for college seniors here in Dubuque, the main question that is being asked is will they stay in Dubuque, or will they go? Loras College seniors weigh in with their plans.

Colin Halbmaier of Cedar Falls, Iowa says, “Right now, I am thinking about staying in the Dubuque area.” Kalli Miner of Glenwood, Iowa is looking for a bigger city. “I am moving either to the West Coast or D.C.”

This split is seen across the senior class at Loras, and is a common trend that the Greater Dubuque Development sees as well. Sarah Harris, the Vice President of Work Force Solutions, says, “I think it’s a good mix. We see there are students that say, ‘We definitely want to stay in the community if there is a job opportunity available to us.’ But there is also students who want to go out to other states.”

In a survey of Loras seniors, the split is evident. Out of the 360 students in the class, 84 responded. 25 students said they were staying in Iowa, 28 said they were planning on leaving, and 31 said they were not sure yet.¬†Harris says, “the students who we really want to grab are the one that are kind of flailing, not really sure if [they’re] going to stay or go, because there are great opportunities here.”

According to Harris, students are looking for opportunities that extend beyond the workforce, including cool apartments, new restaurants, and yoga or Pilates. “We are trying to make Dubuque a cool place. the Millwork District, loft apartments, cool restaurants, neat furniture stores and a Food Co-Op, Pilates, it’s all in the building.”

While Harris doesn’t have specific numbers, she says their efforts are working. This can be seen by the waiting list for Millwork apartments and an increased demand in the rental market in general.

Even if students do leave after graduation, the Dubuque workforce leave the door open for boomer-angers, “people that go out, go to a different community for awhile, and then there is a draw to come back,” Harris explains. No matter what that draw is, Harris and Greater Dubuque Development happily welcomes back boomer-angers, as they bring a new wealth of knowledge to the community that can benefit everyone. This mentality is echoed in some of the seniors at Loras. “Iowa is a great place to grow up,” Kalli says, “but for those of us who are still young and looking to do very macro, big picture things, I think we are looking to start our and eventually coming back.”

Sarah Harris will definitely welcome you back, Kalli.


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Allison is a senior at Loras College and is a Dubuque native. She's the Producer of LCTV News, along with Payton Van Vors, as well as an anchor and reporter. This past summer, Allison had an internship with KCRG in Dubuque, and she's continuing to work for them this Fall. Allison reports because she loves keeping her community informed on issues and events that matter to them.

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