Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Stay or go?

>Another semester is coming to an end. In a mere two weeks, an approximate 1,600 students will be eligible for graduation from the University of Wisconsin, but what faces these young grads? For the lucky few who have jobs lined up, the workforce it is. For the others who will be making their way to graduate school, a couple more years of school will be put under their belts.

And what about the others? What about the students who choose to pursue neither a job nor graduate school at this time — will they choose to stay in Madison? Perhaps.

Many may be singing these famous words, courtesy of The Clash, over and over again in their heads: “Should I stay or should I go?”


Before even beginning the first day of freshman year, many were fully aware of the old saying that those who venture out to Madison for college end up never leaving. However, this is not just a myth. Approximately 41,000 alumni currently live in Madison, comprising 12 percent of all graduates, according to Cheryl Porior-Mayhew, vice president of marketing and communications with the Alumni Association.

Besides the 12 percent currently in Madison, another 8 percent live in Milwaukee, and a total of 35 percent of all alumni live somewhere in Wisconsin.

“In addition to being a great place to go to school, Madison is consistently rated one of the top places to live,” Porior-Mayhew said. ranked Madison No. 2 in 2003 for the best places to live and work, and MSN House and Home ranked Madison No. 7 in the best places to live in 2003: “There’s a lot to get excited about living in Madison. Home to the University of Wisconsin, Madison has one of the highest education scores in the country … Madison’s economy is in great shape too, with an extremely low unemployment rate and a low cost of living.”

The cost of living is probably not what is keeping students in the city, however. Madison itself is keeping graduates in Wisconsin and also attracting people from all over the world to join the city’s approximately 200,000 residents.

In relation to MSN’s comments regarding the city’s economy, UW economics and public affairs professor Donald A. Nichols agrees that Wisconsin’s economy has improved.

“It’s a lot better than last year, but employment is slow,” Nichols said. “This has been an unusual recovery in that we’ve had a real strong growth of output without a strong growth in employment.”

Nichols also said he believes employment growth is soon to follow. This is promising news for the graduates who choose to stay in Madison after commencement with employment opportunities on the increase.

Many students stay in Madison; what remains unclear is why they stay.

UW spokesperson John Lucas explains the reason as bluntly as possible.

“People enjoy their time in Madison, so they just want to stay,” Lucas said.

Many tie it more broadly to the loyalty students develop for UW.

“Everyone has such strong feelings for Madison. When people go to college to begin with, especially undergraduate students, the experience of college itself is rather transformational,” said Ann Groves Lloyd, director of Letters and Science and Human Ecology and Career Services Office. She added many people’s thoughts, values and opinions are challenged in college, which has a profound influence on who they are as individuals. “Then compound that with coming to such an ideal setting.”

People typically enjoy their time as students in Madison, which even draws many back to Madison for retirement.

Porior-Mayhew said she often hears alumni say, “Oh, we’d love to come back!” It is becoming increasingly common for alums to look to Madison for retirement opportunities. Porior-Mayhew said the Alumni Association is currently looking at retirement communities to accommodate these alumni.

Regardless of where alums choose to retire, Porior-Mayhew emphasized the strong UW ties they keep while in other parts of the world.

“There are alumni chapters all over the country. Chapters are very popular, ” Porior-Mayhew said.

However, before this December’s grads step into retirement homes, they may choose to venture outside of Madison and take up that job opportunity or open spot in a master’s program.

UW Dean of Students Luoluo Hong stressed the importance of the transition from college to job, noting that students often hold the mistaken assumption that they need a certain degree to get a certain job.

“It’s really ironic because a lot of times what you were taught in college doesn’t apply directly,” Hong said. “Students need to know that they are starting in a new environment.”

Hong added that students often go in with the frame of mind that they were “hot stuff” in college, when instead they should be humble about their skills and abilities and remain open to learning.

In addition to this transition, Hong described a smaller one from college to graduate school.

“I think that it is a little bit less of a transition, but there are also some significant differences in student life,” Hong said. “A lot more ambiguity, a lot less structure.”

Regardless of which transition students face after graduation or what they choose for themselves, Hong strongly encourages students to take a break if possible.

“I always recommend that if you have the capacity to do it, take a little time off … go find out who you are,” Hong said.

Commencement is set for Dec. 21 at the Kohl Center. Two ceremonies will take place, and Chief Justice Shirley S. Abrahamson will speak. Abrahamson is the first woman on Wisconsin’s Supreme Court, a Wisconsin Law School alumna, and a past member of the UW Law faculty.

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