In the laundry list of factors aspiring college students must consider when picking a school – academic rigor, price tag, reputation, programs offered, etc., – location can often be an afterthought.
Not so fast, experts say. Location can have a huge impact on a student’s adjustment, social experience, finances, and ultimate success.
“Students should carefully consider not only the environment of the campus itself but the surrounding area. The location of a college or university plays an important role in students’ college life,” says Joseph H. Paris, assistant professor of instruction at Temple University. “Opportunities and experiences outside the classroom can be just as important as the learning and development that occurs on a college campus. Many students begin their careers and post-graduation lives in the city or town in which they went to college.
To help students make one of the most important decisions of their young lives, WalletHub released this week its ranking of the Best College Towns and Cities in America.
Austin, Texas, was ranked No. 1 for the third straight year in WalletHub’s analysis. Home of the University of Texas at Austin Longhorns, Austin was 209th for wallet friendliness, 10th for social environment and 23rd for academic and economic opportunities.
It is followed by Ann Arbor, Mich. (University of Michigan); Provo, Utah (Brigham Young University) and Orlando (University of Central Florida). WalletHub’s 10 best and 10 worst college cities are listed in the charts below.
HOW WALLETHUB RANKS COLLEGE CITIES
WalletHub compared 415 college towns and cities across 30 relevant metrics in three areas: 1) wallet friendliness, 2) social environment, and 3) academic and economic opportunities. The wallet and social categories were weighted at 25 points apiece, with academic and economics weighted at 50 points.
For wallet friendliness, WalletHub looked at metrics such as housing costs, adjusted cost of living, average costs of pizza and burgers, and student loan debt per person. For social environment, metrics included students per capita, the number of nearby breweries and food trucks, crime rates, and presence of NCAA Division 1 sports. Finally, in academics and economics, WalletHup gave triple weight to the quality of higher education, while also looking at earning potential for college graduates, entrepreneurial activity, and job-growth rate. You can see the full list of metrics and weights here.
Next page: Best college towns by size and category & WalletHub's 50 best college towns in America