Young, Educated, & Urban - a guest post by Sharon McMillan, the New Urban Mom

Sharon McMillan is the voice behind The following is a guest post from her and examines the urban-minded values that have been instilled in the emerging Millennial generation:

We hear so often about all the bad things the older generation (mine) has done to our world. From damaging the environment (true) to creating wars (also true). But one of the things we have done right is to instill in our children an appreciation of community and in particular, urban communities.

The national non-profit group CEOs for Cities recently commissioned a study to examine the changing residential patterns of college educated young people. Ten years ago young adults with four-year degrees were about 61% more likely to live in an urban neighborhood than their peers who had less education.

Today, CEOs for Cities reports that educated young adults are about 94% more likely to live in urban neighborhoods.

These statistics caught my eye as I just had a discussion with my daughter about living arrangements for her final year of college. She found some great new roommates, but what was surprising to me was the decision her new roommates had made.

Come summer break, these students wouldn’t be heading back to their smaller towns or suburbs to re-join their parents, as had been the tradition for most students during their first three years. Instead these students made the decision, in their sophomore year, to set up roots in their newly adopted urban city, close to the university.

This kind of decision is viable and attractive to young people when they know there is affordable, safe housing,  interesting things to do and tasty places to eat. Sure that could be the case at home, but we all know that urban centers, in many cases, can offer a more eclectic variety of experiences that appeal to the bright young minds leaving our colleges today.

We’ve done a great job of promoting in the media, our schools and society in general, the value and benefit that comes from having a wider appreciation of diverse cultures, foods and people in our lives.

In most instances, urban centers offer that diversity in close proximity to where we live and work. Imagine how attractive it is to a recent graduate to be able to pick up the best Italian espresso on their walk to work, listen to live music in the urban square at lunch and cap off the day with an international film at the corner cinema.

That kind of a day isn’t all that atypical for many of America’s urban cities. The best part is (with very few exceptions) the cost of enjoying these urban treasures is very reasonable for cash-strapped, new graduates.

Again, the statistics are very telling.  According to the CEOs for Cities study, in more than two-thirds of the nation’s 51 largest cities, “the young, college-educated population in the past decade grew twice as fast within three miles of the urban center as in the rest of the metropolitan area – up an average 26%.”

As a parent, this news makes me smile because I think the more our young educated people populate our progressive urban centres, the safer and more enriching these cities will be for all who live there.

Ten years ago I would have thought urban renewal rested in our ability to attract the senior professionals and retirees to the city as their numbers still reflect the largest segment of our population today. But when you look at our cities and at what makes them work or not work, the quality and engagement of our young people is a pretty important factor.

Our young educated people are the ones who will have the energy and interest to address challenges with vigour and advocate for changes that will continue to make our cities progressive places that attract what we need most - businesses and families.

- Sharon McMillan, New Urban Mom.





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