You don’t need to be an honors student to know that location greatly affects a student’s choice of college.
Some want to be far enough away from home that Mom and Dad can’t just drop by on a Tuesday, but close enough to return for holidays or long weekends. Some want a college that thrums with the heartbeat of a bustling metropolis, where internships with major companies are nearby. Others want a spot where you can wander the entire downtown in an afternoon and Saturday football is the big event.
For its 2021’s Best College Towns & Cities in America report, personal finance data site WalletHub analyzed more than 400 municipalities of varying sizes in the U.S.
It evaluated them on 30 key indicators of academic, social and economic opportunities for students. It also looked at crime rates and cost of living, even examining the cost of a night of bowling and the number of food trucks per capita. Then, WalletHub gave each city and town an overall score and ranked them accordingly.
The town that nabbed their No. 1 ranking may not be the best choice for everyone, but this is a useful ranking for students and parents wrestling with this major decision.
Here are the top 15.
15. Storrs, Connecticut
Total score: 56.82 out of 100 points
Storrs, Connecticut, isn’t as well-known as many places on this list, but since it’s home to the University of Connecticut, this town does college with a capital C.
14. Orlando, Florida
Total score: 56.84 out of 100 points
Orlando is home to the enormous University of Central Florida, which boasts more than 71,000 students, making it the largest university in the state.
Don’t think this means Orlando is just for the young, however. WalletHub also has ranked it the best U.S. city for retirees, as we reported in “The 10 Best Places to Retire in 2020.”
13. Princeton, New Jersey
Total score: 56.86 out of 100 points
Princeton is home to the Ivy League’s Princeton University, as well as higher-education institutions ranging from Westminster Choir College to Princeton Theological Seminary.
12. College Station, Texas
Total score: 56.87 out of 100 points
The city of College Station, Texas, owes its name to the flagship campus of Texas A&M University, originally the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas. Country singer Lyle Lovett attended A&M and has reminisced how his dream of being a musician was nurtured there.
Total score: 57.11 out of 100
Colleges located in Seattle include the University of Washington, Seattle Pacific University and Seattle University.
10. Scottsdale, Arizona
Total score: 57.37 out of 100
Scottsdale is home to Scottsdale Community College (whose mascot, incidentally, is Artie, the artichoke) and Arizona’s branch of the Mayo Clinic School of Medicine.
9. Cambridge, Massachusetts
Total score: 57.51 out of 100 points
Colleges located in Cambridge include two Ivy League schools, Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
8. Gainesville, Florida
Total score: 57.87 out of 100 points
Gainesville is home to the University of Florida as well as Santa Fe College.
7. Rexburg, Idaho
Total score: 57.9 out of 100 points
Rexburg is home to Brigham Young University-Idaho.
6. Raleigh, North Carolina
Total score: 57.9 out of 100 points
Raleigh is home to North Carolina State University.
5. Ithaca, New York
Total score: 57.95 out of 100 points
Ithaca, New York, is the home of Cornell University as well as Ithaca College.
4. Irvine, California
Total score: 58.25 out of 100 points
Irvine is home to the University of California, Irvine, and Irvine Valley College, among others.
3. Provo, Utah
Total score: 58.68 out of 100 points
Provo, Utah, is the base of Brigham Young University.
2. Austin, Texas
Total score: 62.25 out of 100 points
Colleges located in the capital of Texas include the University of Texas at Austin and St. Edward’s University.
1. Ann Arbor, Michigan
Total score: 62.92 out of 100
Ann Arbor is the home base of the University of Michigan.
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