Trinity College was recently named the 12th most expensive college in the country with annual tuition at a whopping $53,330. One can't help but imagine the looks on parents faces as they drive up from Westport to drop their college freshman off at this semi-prestigious college and as they pass this beautiful house.
The immediate Hartford area is literally packed with well respected places of higher learning. With Trinity College, St. Joseph's College, the University of Hartford, the UConn Hartford campus, the UConn Graduate Business Learning Center, and the UConn School of Law here, the area certainly doesn't lack for young, bright individuals that will have significant earning power and make significant contributions to their communities during their lives.
Sadly, Hartford has failed to capitalize on this population and retains far too few of those who attend these schools. While much lauded neighbor cities such as New Haven and Boston have helped build themselves by retaining college graduates who will earn and spend in the city, Hartford fails to do so.
Some reasons are clear and transparent. Most glaring is that Hartford simply doesn't have enough jobs. Relocation of offices to surrounding towns such as Bloomfield give less incentive for recent graduates to stay in Hartford. The enduring perceptions of out of control crime and lack of things to do in the area are also contributing factors.
We recently met a Trinity College professor who told us he was shocked by the students almost completely apathetic attitude towards local politics. That fact doesn't shock us at all. Located in an area known for the heroin trade, Trinity College has erected a black iron fence around the campus. Many students of Trinity and other Hartford area schools will have little actual interaction with Hartford save for trips to Allyn Street or concerts at the Comcast Theatre.
These students don't really have any particular reason to be upset at the system as it is working fine for them. They have the ability to attend a fine college at the cost of $53,000 per year. After their four years behind the iron gates of Trinity, many will find jobs through the Trinity Alum network and the vast majority will never live in Hartford again.
There is no doubt that there are legitimate safety concerns on around the campus. For reasons innumerable and debateable the surrounding area has eroded into a dangerous one, even more so for 18-20 year old kids unfamiliar with an urban environment. That said, too often schools in Hartford instill too much fear into students about their surroundings. Though some may find it hard to believe, cities with impeccable media reputations such as Boston and New York also have crime and blight and yet people attend colleges and enjoy the surroundings in those cities.
As with most problems and potential solutions, not one party is fully to blame and not one party alone can fix the problem. Sad City firmly believes that it is in the best interest of Hartford, local businesses and the local colleges and universities to find a way to retain recent graduates and give them reasons to live and contribute to Hartford.