Destination College: Looking Beyond The Campus

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Including Trenton, New Jersey in a College Destinations Index seems odd until you realize that the statiscal metropolitan area includes both Princeton and Ewing, home to Princeton University and the College of New Jersey respectively.

Including Trenton, New Jersey in a College Destinations Index seems odd until you realize that its statistical metropolitan area includes both Princeton and Ewing, home to Princeton University and the College of New Jersey respectively.

When choosing a college, I selected a local state college that had both a solid academic reputation as well as a bucolic campus setting. But it was the nearby parks, lakes and streams which had the most appeal for me, local attractions which helped me choose Ramapo College over two other state schools.  Sure, being just a forty minute drive from the Big Apple helped too!

AIER Survey

I’ve always believed that a significant number of students thought the same way I did when it came to picking a school. After all, when classes are done for the day and you want to get away from campus, where your college is located can make all the difference in the world to you. Well, it seems that I’m not alone in that sentiment as a recent survey by the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER) has revealed that nearby coffee houses, concert halls and other favorite attractions and amenities can contribute to the college experience.

The AIER took a look at 360 US metropolitan statistical areas with an eye toward weighing Academic Environment, Quality of Life, and Professional Opportunities for college students. They then split these areas into four tiers based on population size and then scored each area based on twelve categories including student concentration and entrepreneurial opportunities. The result is featured in their College Destinations Index which doesn’t look at schools specifically, rather at the communities where these schools are located.

College Destinations Index

As AIER mentioned, “The CDI isn’t just for students and their parents. College presidents, admission offices, and alumni can use it to promote their schools, civic planners to tout their regions, and CEOs to plan their next move. What’s more, the amenities that create great college communities also can make these destinations fine places to visit or retire.”

The top major metropolitan area was New York City while the top performers in each of the next three population tiers were San Jose; Boulder, CO; and Ithaca, NY. Again, the survey doesn’t look at specific schools, rather it takes a hard look of the “off campus assets” surrounding a number of colleges and universities.

So, if you’re looking for a college survey or index that comes from a different perspective, the AIER is something that you and your family should explore.

Adv. — If you are shopping for a college scholarship please keep this little saying in mind: If they request money from you in order to get money, they are likely operating a scam.  Instead, start your scholarship search at our college planning center, your no obligation resource center!

Pictured: Wikipedia file photo

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