Connecticut high school students are more frequently choosing to stay in state to attend college, and Fairfield University is the fourth most popular in-state private university chosen by incoming freshmen, according to a New York Times article.

With the University of Connecticut and Quinnipiac topping the lists for public and private college choices, 56 percent of 2002 Connecticut high school graduates planned to stay in state, according to the State Department of Education.

Central Connecticut State University is second to UConn in the number of incoming freshmen from the state. The other top state public colleges were Southern Connecticut State University, Eastern Connecticut State University and Gateway Community College.

The other four of the top five private in-state colleges were Quinnipiac, the University of Hartford, the University of New Haven and Sacred Heart University.

Fairfield boasts a higher percentage of Connecticut residents than any other state with 48.4 percent of all students, including day, evening, full-time, part-time and University college students, hailing from Connecticut, according to Phyllis Fitzpatrick, director of management operations.

“We don’t have a quota on Connecticut or non-Connecticut students,” said Fitzpatrick. “However, we are a regional institution.”

Fitzpatrick, responsible for the yearly student census, reported that 2,448 enrolled students of the total 5,060 student body count, or 48.4 percent, are from Connecticut.

However, an overwhelming majority of evening, part-time and University College students are from Connecticut, according to Fitzpatrick.

Of the 515 University College students, 499, or 96.7 percent, are from Connecticut.

Of the 90 part-time and evening engineering students, 86, or 95.5 percent, are from Connecticut.

Fitzpatrick cited such reasons as commute time, workplace location and close proximity for the high percentages.

Of the full-time day undergraduate students, 24.6 percent are from Connecticut. Fitzpatrick reported that, this year, 796 of the 3229 full-time day undergraduates are from Connecticut. The percentage rate has stayed about the same from last year’s counts of 810 Connecticut students out of the 3295 total student body count.

Sean Barrett ’05 of Trumbull and his brother, a junior at UConn, both elected to stay in-state to attend college and explained the reasons behind his choice.

“It’s not like I am right by where I grew up,” Barrett said. “I mean, it’s less than a 15 minute drive away, but I have my own life at Fairfield and it’s not like my parents interfere with it.”

“Some people think that it wouldn’t be so cool, but it’s not an issue with me,” he said. “Besides, UConn and Fairfield are good schools.”

Other top states include Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey with other Fairfield students from 34 states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico and 23 foreign countries.

According to the University Fact Book, the full-time enrollment listed by geographical region from 2001-2003 showed a distinct trend towards New England and Mid-Atlantic states with a total of 93 percent of all students coming from those regions, 47 percent and 46 percent, respectively.

Ryan Jessel ’05 of Watertown stayed in Connecticut because of its proximity to his hometown.

“I like New England,” said Jessel. “I like being far enough from home that my parents aren’t around the corner and close enough to get good food when I get sick of take-out.”

Kristina Gerics ’06, who also lives in Trumbull, agreed with Jessel.

“I liked the school and thought it would be best for me to be closer,” she said. “My parents said they would treat me as though I was farther away, not so close, and that has been good for both of us.”

“I have lived in Connecticut all my life,” Barrett said. “I went to college to go to a good school, one I wanted to go to. I didn’t go to college to get away from my parents.”

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