The things I mentioned above combine with many more personal characteristics to help us determine where we will best fit in. These characteristics help our new graduates decide how to navigate the world that is now open to them. Some will stay here in Rush County and some will journey far away.
I will end with a short sampling of ideas expressed to me on why local young adults choose one direction or another. The answers may provide additional insight to the common local discussion on why so many kids never return to live after going away to college. To note is that whether the ideas are true or not, this is the way many young people perceive our small community to be.
Ranging in age from eighteen to twenty-seven, my sampling on the thoughts of the younger generation identifies the following reasons for staying in or returning to Rush County after college. At the top is the desire to be close to family and to feel good about the closeness of the community, meaning that they like the fact that people know one another so well here. Many of these individuals also think the environment is a very safe place to raise a family and to school them. These young adults strongly identify with the county and its small town charm.
From the same age group, common reasons provided for permanently leaving the county are the lack of shopping choices and cultural resources. Perhaps most telling though are thoughts on the lack of personal opportunity. While it is obvious that there are not many job opportunities available here, some young people choose not to live or commute from here because, in one individual's words, "Rush County is a small pond with too many big fish." Translating the phrase is that many young people see the county as a place where only a select few make the rules and deny newer ways of thinking. They see this to be a power issue where those with the most control are involved in almost every facet of community rulings and that these "big fish" will use their influence and connections to keep people of opposing views out of the decision-making processes. Interestingly, this issue applies to some females who feel as though their gender, or rather the outdated stereotype of their gender, prevents them from growth as well. These young people do not identify with the county and its lack of opportunity and other noted resources.