group of graduates in green robes throwing graduation caps in the air with treetops and bright sun in the background
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“You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
Any direction you choose.

“You’re on your own.
And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”

Sure, All the Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss is pretty cliché graduation fare. But gendered language aside, these lines illustrate a good point: If you’ve just finished college, you have some decisions to make about not only what you’re going to do with your life, but also where you’re going to do it.

So if you’re looking to stay in the U.S., which state do you choose? Well, in June 2022, BestColleges released a list of the best states for college grads to start their careers. The report took into account these metrics for each of the 50 states (BestColleges did not include Washington, DC):

  • Average rent
  • Cost of living
  • Average entry-level salary
  • Number of job postings
  • Percentage of the population from 25 to 34 years old
  • Racial/ethnic diversity
  • Women’s equality
  • Percentage of the adult population with a bachelor’s degree or higher
  • Fun (entertainment, recreation, and attractions in the state)

This list can give you a starting point as you decide where in the U.S. you’d like to launch your career. But no study is perfect—or tailored to you. So make sure you research any factors that matter to you when choosing a place to live.

Additionally, BestCollege’s “women’s equality” metric is based on data from 2020, before the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. In the wake of the court’s decision, many states have or will strip anyone who can get pregnant of the right to have an abortion. So while BestColleges named 10 top states for new grads, we’ve removed two states with abortion bans from our list here. (You can also check out our list of states that protect abortion rights, with open jobs in each.)

Take a look at the list below and click through to find entry-level job postings in a few major cities in each state—but you can always adjust the location filter to your preferences.

New York

California

Illinois

Colorado

Virginia

Washington

Michigan

Maryland

Updated 7/15/2022