Jan 18th, 2005 @ 3:47 pm | Author: By Ellen-Earle Chaffee
Susan Weshnevski Pfeifer, formerly of Tower City, is coming home. So is Cameron Walker, formerly of Valley City. More and more, people from the area are staying here after college or taking the first opportunity to return. It is a trend that will continue as rewarding job opportunities increase.

Susan went to Jamestown College majoring in business with an economics concentration. She then spent ten years in the Twin Cities earning a master's degree in software engineering and working for a major firm, most recently as its lead software engineer. She and her husband are coming home to Valley City State University, where she will be the new faculty member to teach the software requirements for Eagle Creek Software.

Cameron Walker is a 2002 VCSU and VCHS graduate majoring in business administration. He has been in Chicago for a couple of years working for a major information technology firm. The firm has decided that VCSU is the perfect host site for an administrative center that will work with home-based workers in three satellite communities.

Cam's mother is Marcia Foss, our career services director. She helps us not only keep track of all our graduates, but also recruit them into North Dakota jobs. She reports that among the Valley City State graduating class of 2004, 74 percent of the education majors and 82 percent of the non-education majors have remained in North Dakota.

The North Dakota University System recently published its annual follow-up report on the placement statistics of all NDUS 2002 graduates as of 2003. Taking all the universities and colleges together, just over half remained in North Dakota to work, to continue their education, or both. This does not include those who are in North Dakota but unemployed, employed in jobs not covered by unemployment insurance, or enrolled in a private school. Three out of five remaining in the state were originally from North Dakota. The state also retained from 21 to 36 percent of those who came here to attend college from elsewhere.

Most likely to stay here were the graduates of two-year (or shorter) programs – about two out of three. They earned an average of about $1,900 per month. Bachelor's degree graduates were next, with nearly half staying here. They earned an average of about $2,250 per month. Only one out of five professional degree recipients remained in the state one year later.

We retained less than half of our graduates in airway sciences, architecture and engineering, agriculture, sciences, health sciences, family sciences, and humanities and social sciences. We were most likely to retain graduates in business, allied health, construction and electronics, general studies, law, and teacher education.

Graduates with the highest earning power in North Dakota majored in health sciences, mathematics and computer science, architecture, and engineering. Next, and just above the North Dakota median salary, were teacher education and agriculture majors.

Overall, the study illustrates the wide range of majors and jobs available in the state and the strong interest of college graduates to remain in the state when they have a job opportunity. And those who have left, we find, are happy to return.