Thousands of Michigan students who graduated from high school this spring will be arriving on college campuses this month, ready to begin their college careers.
And if previous years are any indication, a good chunk of those college freshman will be following Kaylee McCarthy to the land of the Spartans.
Michigan State University is the top destination for public high school graduates in the state. What's next? These are the top five, based on Class of 2016 data released earlier this year:
1. Michigan State University — 4,709
2. Grand Valley State University — 3,121
3. Central Michigan University — 2,836
4. Macomb Community College — 2,682
5. University of Michigan in Ann Arbor — 2,573
McCarthy, 18, who graduated from Livonia Stevenson High School in the spring, has a good idea why MSU is a top choice.
"The location is great," McCarthy said. "All of the opportunities that the school offers really draw people in."
McCarthy will be majoring in hospitality management at MSU. So will her good friend Megan Argenta, though she'll be doing it at Central Michigan.
"It's centrally located," Argenta said, explaining the draw to the Mt. Pleasant campus. "And I like the atmosphere. I just really fell in love with it."
Emily Kaatz, 18, will be moving in this week at Grand Valley.
Kaatz, a Yale High School graduate, chose Grand Valley in part because Allendale, where it's located, reminds her of her hometown. And, she said, the campus is close-knit and the close proximity to Grand Rapids is an advantage.
"I'm really excited," Kaatz said. "Every single time I've been to the campus, I just want to walk around and keep looking at everything."
"For many students, that sense of fit is so important," said Patrick O'Connor, associate dean of college counseling at Cranbrook Schools. "As a counselor, I tell students that what they're looking for is the place that has the right blend of challenge, opportunity and support."
That's why he always encourages students to visit campuses — something McCarthy, Argenta and Kaatz have done — some multiple times.
"It gives you a sense of comfort with the place itself," O'Connor said.
These schools round out the top 10:
6. Oakland University — 2,210
7. Western Michigan University — 2,060
8. Eastern Michigan University — 2,058
9. Wayne State University — 2,040
10. Grand Rapids Community College — 1,914
The data come from www.mischooldata.org, the official state website for education data. It covers students who graduated in 2016 and enrolled in college within six months. There were nearly 103,000 high school graduates.
We won't know where the students in the Class of 2017 will end up until next year. But years of data provide a clue: MSU is consistently at or near the top. So is Macomb Community College, where in addition to community college programs, students can earn graduate and undergraduate degrees thanks to partnerships with a dozen colleges and universities.
Of course, not everyone goes to school in-state. But those who do leave the state tend to stay close to home. Ohio universities dominate the top five destinations for Michigan students.
The out-of-state rankings:
1. University of Toledo — 427
2. Bowling Green State University — 127
3. University of Northwestern Ohio — 123
4. Purdue University in Indiana — 108
5. Central State University in Ohio — 97.
All colleges for Michigan's Class of 2016 are listed in the ranking table below.
►Make it easy to keep up to date with more stories like this. Download the WZZM 13 app now.