By Ty Filley, City Of Fargo Public Information Coordinator
Photo By Hillary Ehlen
Each year, more than 16,000 college students make their academic home in Fargo, be they a North Dakota State University Bison, a North Dakota State College of Science Wildcat or others. It is not only Fargo-based students deciding to continue their education locally. In the fall of 2018, nearly 60 percent of students enrolled at NDSU came from out-of-state. With extensive educational opportunities and myriad career paths from which to choose, it is not surprising that so many students, local or otherwise, choose to enroll in Fargo-based universities and colleges.
Determining which school to attend is certainly an important decision for any future student. Prospective undergraduates agonize over what degree to pursue, what to expect about life on a university campus and how the next few years could shape their life. What some may not realize is Fargo makes a great home not only for current local students but also for recent graduates of Fargo area schools as well as those graduating from regional colleges, universities and other schools.
Fargo is a young, vibrant community with a median age of 30.2 years, according to the United States Census Bureau. Fargo’s median age is seven years younger than the national median. In fact, the Census Bureau reports that more than a quarter of Fargo’s residents are in their 20s, compared to less than 14 percent nationwide. Not only is Fargo young, but it is also growing. Since 2010, the City’s population has seen an increase of nearly 20,000. Students who fell in love with the Fargo metro, in part, fueled this growth.
The state instituted the Main Street ND Initiative in 2018 with the purpose of creating 21st-century cities with vibrant cores that will help attract and retain talent. That means walkable neighborhoods, mixed-use real estate and the renovation of historic buildings to appeal to a younger demographic.
“Many students come to our city as visitors and we work every day to encourage them to call Fargo home. This is an extremely attractive community for anyone to call home, especially students and recent graduates. Fargo is ‘it!’ We have the buzz as the Midwest’s best up and coming city,” remarked Fargo Mayor Dr. Tim Mahoney.
Reviews.org, a website specializing in ranking products and services, named Fargo a top 10 U.S. City for Millennials to Relocate based on unemployment rates, housing costs and crime rates. Additionally, Fargo was recognized by Livability.com as one of the 10 Best Places to Get a Fresh Start and the 5th Best Place to Start a Business due to its strong economy, safety, the culture of growth, affordable cost of living and a booming, thriving startup scene. The site also called Fargo “surprisingly cool” with a “hale and hardy economy.”
How do recent graduates weigh the decision to live in Fargo or any city for that matter? According to a study from the American Institute for Economic Research, economic conditions are an important aspect in a young person’s decision but so too are quality of life considerations. Those factors range from public safety to the arts and culture of a community and to the services one can expect from their home city, such as public transportation options.
The same American Institute for Economic Research study shows another important factor in a graduate’s post-collegiate living decision is choosing places with large young and educated populations. In this sense, Fargo’s higher education and the greater community operate in a synergetic manner. Institutions of higher education cultivate a more educated population, which in turn creates a more attractive home for recent graduates. This relationship can lead to incredible partnerships occurring every day in this community.
Fargo was recently named one of the best-run cities in the country, ranking sixth among all U.S. large cities in “Quality of Services,” according to research website Wallethub. This commitment to excellence certainly differentiates the Fargo advantage. Fargo ranked higher than all of its regional peers and was one of only a few Midwest cities included in this prestigious designation.
Residents have come to expect world-class utilities, amenities and City staff members when they choose to live in Fargo. Wallethub also earlier this year named Fargo the 6th Happiest City in America, with key indicators including income-growth, average leisure time, sports participation and the unemployment rate.
Of course, one of the greatest motivators for students seeking degrees is launching their career following graduation. Major employers from the medical, manufacturing and technology industries (and everything in between) are firmly rooted in Fargo, including Sanford Health, Essentia Health, Phoenix International, Border States Electric, Case New Holland and Microsoft. With an unemployment rate below three percent, Fargo has a work-friendly job market perfect for nearly anyone looking to begin the professional chapter of their life.
When the final exam is complete, the final paper submitted and the cap and gown worn, area graduates will conclude their college days with not only a degree but also a new and vibrant home in Fargo.