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Why Do Iowa State Grads Choose to Stay in Ames, IA?

In addition to falling in love with the Heart of Iowa region, students stay after graduation because of affordability, job opportunities and much more.

By Kevin Litwin on June 10, 2022

The Student Innovation Center on the Iowa State campus in Ames, IA
Rick Lozier

Ames, IA, offers so much beyond the campus of Iowa State University, which is why scores of students are choosing to stay after graduation.

This scenic and affordable city has long been a fixture on Livability.com’s annual list of Top 100 Best Places to Live as well as 10 Best College Towns.

Ames itself has a strong economy, job opportunities, growth, and perhaps its most famous asset – Iowa State – enjoys a reputation for excellence in science, technology, discovery and innovation that draws talent from all over the globe. ISU students have access to this world-class research institution along with a large list of private-sector companies located throughout the city and region.

In the Middle of it All

Ames is also in the heart of the Silicon Prairie, a cluster of successful tech cities across the Midwest and Great Plains, where entrepreneurs are developing innovative new companies.

One of those hotspots for innovation is Iowa State University Research Park, an epicenter for these types of businesses and home to companies such as Workiva, Zoetis and Merck.

Also within the Research Park is the ISU Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship, which offers programs and services that connect students, community entrepreneurs, business professionals and alumni. These opportunities help prepare students by providing them with valuable real-world experience.

Quality of Life Advantages, Too

Ames is ranked among the top cities in the U.S. for grads to go into STEM-related careers. The list of top fields to enter is diverse and includes education technology, telehealth, advanced manufacturing, robotics and real estate.

“Our startup-entrepreneurial community is very high caliber,” says Jim Oliver, ISU professor and director of a recently opened on-campus Student Innovation Center. “As a result, more and more ISU students are deciding to stay in Ames following graduation, in large part due to top employment opportunities and quality-of-life advantages.”

Those quality-of-life advantages are plentiful in Ames, where graduating students will find not only great career options, but plenty to do after work. Ames is home to 36 parks, a lively downtown scene, many restaurants and nightspots, miles of bike trails and four golf courses.

And if you crave culture, the university brings in Broadway shows, Pulitzer Prize-winning speakers, famous artists and big-name concerts. Students can also keep their Cyclone spirit alive by attending multiple ISU sporting events.

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