When we decided to look at where Illinois students are going to college – and how that has changed – we didn’t know what we would find. Would there be a small college in Montana suddenly attracting a large number of Illinoisians? Was the University of Iowa still the biggest draw outside of Illinois?
By analyzing U.S. Department of Education data, reporter Alex Richards was able to determine how many Illinois students had been going to all public and private colleges in the U.S. since 2000. When we looked at the data, a clear trend emerged: The number of Illinois students going to the University of Missouri at Columbia had skyrocketed.
To get a sense of how Illinois students have changed the campus, I traveled there in late October to meet prospective students and talk to current students.
To read more about what they had to say, why students are leaving the state, and whether Iowa is still the top draw, take a look at our front page story from Friday.
As journalists, we knew about Mizzou because it's home to a top-notch journalism school, and some of our colleagues have graduated from there.
But we had no idea until we looked at that data that there had been a 330 percent increase in Illinois freshmen going to the University of Missouri during the past 10 years.
There are 1,370 Illinois freshmen there this fall – about the size of entire freshman classes at some Illinois public universities. And it was a sizable increase from a decade ago, when there were 318 Illinois freshmen at Missouri.
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