List of Top 75 College Towns & Cities Released

Is your college town up to snuff?

Photo credit: Eva Abreu on Flickr
Photo credit: Eva Abreu on Flickr

The American Institute for Economic Research has released its list of the top 75 college towns and cities after narrowing down from a list of 227 areas with over 15,000 students.

Many factors — including cost of living, city accessibility and unemployment rate — were considered when coming up with the AIER College Destination Index.

The nonprofit says on its website that AIER “provides factual, unbiased research and critical analysis based on the principles of positive economics.”

The list breaks down the cities by size. Here are the top five for each metro size!

The Top 5 Major Metros:

  1. Boston, Mass.
  2. Washington, D.C.
  3. New York, N.Y.
  4. San Francisco, Calif.
  5. Baltimore, Md.

The Top 5 Mid-Sized Metros:

  1. San Jose, Calif.
  2. Austin, Texas
  3. Oklahoma City, Okla.
  4. Buffalo, N.Y.
  5. Pittsburgh, Penn.

The Top 5 Small Metros:

  1. Ann Arbor, Mich.
  2. Madison, Wisc.
  3. Boulder, Colo.
  4. Gainesville, Fla.
  5. Durham, N.C.

The Top 5 College Towns:

  1. Ithaca, N.Y.
  2. Ames, Iowa
  3. State College, Penn.
  4. Iowa City, Iowa
  5. Corvallis, Ore.

This research is certainly interesting. It is cool to see how a city’s economy relates to a college — and which cities were at the top of each list.

Some of the cities listed on the smaller metro scales did not surprise me, such as Ann Arbor and Madison. We have all heard about how great these college towns are and the University of Michigan and the University of Wisconsin are very well known.

What did surprise me was the diversity of the top college towns (population under 250,000). Two cities from Iowa made the top five, which is interesting, considering cities with schools like Indiana University and Auburn University were much further down.

This kind of research is a very important (but undervalued) aspect of making a college decision. It’s important to go to a college that is surrounded by a successful community. While the college itself may be amazing, what good does it do you if your opportunities end where the campus ends?

No matter how great the school is, it’s also important to know that you can break out of the college bubble and still be surrounded by a thriving community. For example, if you want to find an internship while you’re in school, will you be able to find one within the city? Or even just a part-time job?

Another thing to consider when making your college decision is that the size of the city your college is located in will not necessarily make or break you. You don’t have to go to school in a town like NYC or D.C. to succeed — there are plenty of opportunities in other cities across the U.S., which this research highlights.

While I can’t personally vouch for every single city on this list, I do believe this is a very comprehensive ranking. It’s worth checking out! Click here to view the full results of the study and to find more information.

What do you think about the ranking? Should your college town have made the list?

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