How Does Your College Town Rate?

How Does Your College Town Rate?

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WalletHub rates the best and worst college communities in America.

Choosing the right college or university depends on a number of factors to include: educational offerings, academic rigor, dorm living, campus life and other factors. Another consideration is the community where the institution is located. After all, you’ll want to leave campus regularly to take in the entire area.

Well, WalletHub has come up with its list of 2014’s Best & Worst College Cities & Towns in America. They assigned rankings to 280 U.S. cities and towns to determine the ones that deliver the best or worst combination of academic, social and economic atmospheres, using 23 key metrics.

We’ll take a look at the top performers as well as those communities that did not fare particularly well. A look at the key metrics is in order, what can help college-bound students drill down in the results.

1. Oxford, OhioOxford is home to the “other” Miami University. A college township was literally formed for the university with Miami U. arriving in 1809 followed by the development of the town beginning in 1810. The well-planned relationship between the town and the university provides for an uncommon relationship amongst the school’s peers.

2. State College, Pennsylvania — Home to Pennsylvania State University or Penn State, State College is situated in Happy Valley, an informal name for the area. Penn State dominates the community, but this college town has a life of its own with a minor league baseball team, the Nittany Valley Symphony and several performance arts theaters present. The town’s small city charm makes it the ideal place for Nittany Lion faithful to hang out when not in class.

3. Chapel Hill, North Carolina — The University of North Carolina calls Chapel Hill home, a community located in Orange County, NC, or about 30 miles west of Raleigh, the state capital. Chapel Hill is a progressive, arts-oriented community with a thriving downtown, a mass transit system and multiple cultural festivals. The university is located in the middle of this city of 50,000 people, providing easy access to everything.

4. Corvallis, Oregon — Oregon State University calls Corvallis its home, a community located in the central western area of the state. Corvallis means “heart of the valley” and it is in the bucolic Willamette Valley where this school can be found. The town is home to the annual Da Vinci Days festival and it typically ranks as one of the best places to live and launch a business. OSU students may find it difficult to leave the area once their schooling is done.

5. College Station, Texas — Texas A&M University calls College Station its home, a city of 100,000 people located in east central Texas. The city’s name is attributed both to the college and a railroad station, with both providing the impetus needed for growth. College Station has a thriving downtown, multiple business parks and an airport. Two of the state’s largest cities, Houston and Austin, can be reached within a two-hour drive.

A Race to the Bottom

As with any survey, not everything smells rosy. The worst performing communities are as follows.

280. Yonkers, New York — Sarah Lawrence College is located in Yonkers, a city in Westchester County, NY. The city is old, run down and generally not a safe place to hang out.

279. Bridgeport, Connecticut — The University of Bridgeport calls this Connecticut city its home. Like many other formally industrial cities in the US, Bridgeport has seen a decline in livability. Redevelopment is slow and it shows.

278. North Las Vegas, Nevada — The city of North Las Vegas is the fourth largest city in Nevada. With more than 200,000 people spread across its 101 square miles, it has much room to grow. The Cheyenne campus of the College of Southern Nevada calls this town its home.

277. Miramar, Florida — Florida International University, Broward College and Nova Southeastern University call Miramar their home. It is a hardscrabble town, home to Spirit Airlines with average incomes coming in below $20,000 per year.

276. Springfield, Massachusetts — Home to Springfield College; Western New England University; American International College; and Springfield Technical Community College, this western Mass. town scores low in “youth-oriented environment.”

Key Metrics

In scoring each college town, WalletHub looked at three primary areas: wallet wellness, youth-oriented environment and opportunities, giving equal weight to all three categories.

For wallet wellness, WalletHub considered provided scoring based on housing costs, adjusted cost of living for young people, average pizza & burgers cost, and other factors.

A youth-oriented score was assigned based on the number of students per capita, the percentage of 18-to-35-year-olds, nightlife options and crime rate. Other factors looked at the number of cafes, sports clubs and student gender balance.

For opportunities, WalletHub gave double weight to the quality of higher education and full weight to brain drain, entrepreneurial activity and unemployment. They also looked at the earning potential of people with a bachelor’s degree or higher.

See AlsoThe Colleges With the Friendliest Students

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