College Towns Rank High For Livability


High school students typically choose their colleges based on academics, programs offered, strength of its sports teams and related factors. But, what if students were to consider one other factor, such as the town itself? That makes sense because when you want to do something away from campus, the surrounding community can either make your college experience more enjoyable or a drag.

Best Towns

This past week, the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER) revealed its yearly “College Destinations Index” (CDI), a quantitative ranking of the 75 best towns and cities to live in for college student. These locations were selected from an analysis of 222 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) with student populations of 15,000 or more.

“Deciding what school to attend should involve more than what the school itself has to offer,” says Keming Liang, AIER’s lead researcher on the project.  “Where to attend college is just as important, because like the colleges themselves, the towns and cities in which they are located vary widely in the opportunities they offer students and recent graduates.”

12 Factors

The AIER considered 12 factors for ranking college communities including student concentration, student diversity, research capacity, degree attainment, cost of living, arts and leisure, city accessibility, creative class, earning potential, entrepreneurial activity, and what they identified as brain gain/drain. These factors led to the scoring which identified which college towns were rated the best.

AIER then divided the schools up by community size with the top three winners in each category identified as follows:

  • Major Metros (2.5 million or more residents): San Francisco, New York and Washington, D.C.
  • Midsize Metros (1 million to 2.5 million residents): San Jose, Austin and Raleigh.
  • Small Cities (250,000 to 1 million residents): Boulder, Co; Ann Arbor, MI; and Bridgeport, CT.
  • College Towns (Under 250,000 residents): Ithaca, NY; State College, PA; and Iowa City, IA.

Independent Data

Instead of relying on data supplied by schools which would clearly show a bias toward their towns, the AIER culled information obtained from federal census, labor statistics and the National Science Foundation sources.

Along with the CDI report available for free online, AIER has released a companion guide – “2010-2011 College Destinations” – that ranks all 222 MSAs, profiling the top 40 locations – ten in each of four population categories – and what they have to offer.

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Categories: Campus News