It's no secret that many New Jersey kids choose to attend out-of-state colleges instead of staying within the Garden State for their higher education. It’s sad and can have some negative consequences for the state as a whole.

Statsamerica published a survey that reported the percentage of kids who leave NJ for college. And the results, while not surprising, are dispiriting.

Forty-six states keep their students in the state in larger numbers than we do.

In fact, the only states that have kids who move away for college in larger numbers than New Jersey, are the District of Columbia, Vermont, New Hampshire, Hawaii and Connecticut.


A whopping 54.3% of NJ students leave for out-of-state schools. As a comparison, Utah, which keeps more college kids in state than any other state, only has 9.8% going away for college.

Ouch. That hurts.

We understand the main reason. And we’ve always known this. New Jersey state colleges are more expensive than any other state schools. Sometimes you can get a better deal as an out-of-state student in other states than you can right here being an in-state student.

Secondarily, there’s the fear of not being able to afford to live in NJ when they do finally earn a degree of some sort. Any junior or senior in high school knows how tough it is here.

They watch their parents or their older brothers and sisters struggle and figure they’d rather start out somewhere where the odds are not against them.

Of course, every state is going to lose kids who just want a change of scenery, to explore different environments, to experience unfamiliar places and step out of their comfort zones.

And then, obviously, every state loses a certain amount of students who may need to leave because of specific programs or majors that are not available within New Jersey.

NJIT (via Amazon Prime Video The College Tour)
NJIT (via Amazon Prime Video The College Tour)

But add that to the financial issues and you’ve got a mass exodus.

The problem is so many do not return and choose to set up their lives elsewhere. when students attend out-of-state colleges, they often establish networks and connections elsewhere, making it less likely for them to return to New Jersey after graduation.

Losing these students can be detrimental to the state. First, it leads to a significant brain drain. New Jersey is home to several excellent colleges and universities, and losing its talented students to other states diminishes the potential for local innovation and economic growth.

And of course, there’s the lost revenue for New Jersey's educational institutions and, in turn, reduced funding for the state's education system.

I’d love to encourage more students to stay in-state for college to help us retain talent, and foster local economic growth.

The problem is, I don’t blame them.

The 30 worst rated schools in New Jersey

Here are the 30 lowest-rated schools statewide, based on their 2021-2022 New Jersey School Performance Reports — involving scores for language arts, math and attendance. (For an explanation of how the state calculates the "accountability indicator scores" and overall rating for each school, see page 90 of this reference guide.)

Average SAT scores for all NJ high schools, 2020-21

Average SAT scores for the 2020-2021 school year are listed by county, from highest to lowest. Data includes the combined score, as well as the average scores on the math and reading/writing sections.

Participation rates show the share of 12th graders in the Class of 2021 who took the SAT in 2020-21 or in prior years.

High schools aren't listed if there is no data or the number of students participating was low enough that average scores were not publicly reported to protect student privacy.

Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Judi Franco only.

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