Building an Educated Workforce: Brain Drain and Senior State Merit Scholarship Recipients Studying Science, Technology, Engineering, and/or Mathematics

Allison Louise Atkins, University of South Carolina


Brain drain is a concept which purports that an area's economy suffers when its most educated population migrates from home. While this phenomenon is most frequently studied in developing countries, within the United States, some states are concerned with losing their most educated workers and scholars to other states or countries as well. As a method to combat the concern, some states have implemented merit scholarships to entice achieving students to attend in-state institutions of higher education. South Carolina's lottery-funded merit programs waive tuition for students; however there is no reason to assume that the students will live and work in South Carolina after completing their baccalaureate degrees. This study explored the intentions of the senior merit scholarship recipients in the majors of science, technology, engineering, and math about where they plan to live and work after graduating. The findings were analyzed through the lens of Schlossberg's theory of students in transition (Goodman, Schlossberg, & Anderson, 2006) and answer the following questions: