When it comes to a student’s overall success, experts have found that a college’s location on the map is equally as important as the quality of the school’s curriculum and social environment. According to Forbes, these colleges ranked #1 for each of these categories: large city, midsize city, and small city college towns out of 415 U.S. cities. When planning your next campus visit, consider schools in these top-rated college towns.
Criteria for Rankings
Wallet Friendliness kicks off the first 25% of the report, which measured factors like the city’s cost of housing for young people, the average price of fast-food entrees, college tuition and fees, and student loan debt per person.
Social Environment accounted for another 25% of the study. The social environment of the city included the number of students per capita, student gender ratio, and amount of dining options per capita. The city’s crime rates and accessibility were also factored in.
Academic & Economic Opportunities made up 50% of the report. Among the 8 factors in this category were the quality of higher education and earning potential of college students post-graduation. The city’s unemployment rate and the median income of part-time employees were taken into account as well.
Best “Large City” College Town
Austin, Texas headed the large city list. Getting ready to plan your campus tour of the University of Texas or a neighboring college? The Austin Metro area offers plenty of eclectic experiences. Get a taste of the city’s vibrant live music scene at a local rock & roll bar or country music venue. Looking for a fun Honky Tonk? Learn the Texas two-step at the Broken Spoke. If you love the great outdoors, take a hiking trail at Ziller Park, or just enjoy a nice picnic while watching the sunset.
Best “Midsize City” College Town
Orlando, Florida came in first place for midsize city college towns. The University of Central Florida and nearby colleges are surrounded by trendsetting coffee shops and restaurants. Not planning on going to the theme parks? No sweat! Entry to Universal’s Citywalk and Disney Springs are free and packed with entertainment. Each avenue offers one-of-a-kind shops, eateries, and free live performances, day and night. If it’s basketball season, catch a Magic game at the Amway Center in Downtown Orlando, or watch the game with fellow fans at Ace Café. Looking for more adventure? From Gatorland to Boggy Creek Airboat Adventures to Ripley’s Museum, Orlando is full of unique attractions for practically every niche.
Best “Small City” College Town
Ann Arbor, Michigan came in at the top for the small city ranking. With many colleges to choose from, this lively town is growing in popularity and in its number of residents. Boasting the nation’s biggest football stadium, the University of Michigan Wolverines’ team spirit runs deep. Packed with breweries, beer gardens and bars in walking distance, Ann Arbor’s nightlife offers great places to wind down and enjoy live music. It’s also one of five cities where you can rent a watercraft to travel along the river. The Huron River Water Trail is a must-see natural wonder when planning your visit.
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