Best College Towns and Cities Ranked; including Entrepreneurial Activity

Interesting story in the USA Today about a new ranking on the best college towns and cities. The locations are broken into four categories based on size and each city is ranking on 12 variables across 3 general categories: Academic environment, quality of life, and professional opportunity.

It appears from the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER) that

Download the report and check out the best college towns across a variety of metrics.

entrepreneurial activity, creative class, diversity, and brain gain or drain are measured. Two of my academic mentors, Richard Florida & Zoltan Acs, have been instrumental in popularizing these variables and as importantly explaining  their importance to economic growth, innovation, and quality of life for individuals, cities, regions, and entire countries. Check out Richard and Zoltan’s work.

From the AEIR website:

The College Destinations Index (CDI) describes the broader learning environments of the top 75 cities and towns for students and pulls them together here in an easy-to-understand map and table.

The index subdivides more than 360 metropolitan statistical areas into four tiers based on population size. We then rank the top scoring destinations in each tier according to 12 measures that range from student concentration to entrepreneurial opportunities.

Our evaluation of destinations is further organized into three categories—Academic Environment, Quality of Life, and Professional Opportunities. Each addresses the larger learning environment according to objective criteria. Research Capacity, for example, one of our measures of Academic Environment, is based on research-and-development expenditures. Arts and Leisure, in our Quality of Life section, measures the number of cultural and entertainment locations. Entrepreneurial Activity, in the Professional Opportunities section, tracks the net annual increase of business establishments.

It isn’t just about professors and classes. Conversations in coffee houses, performances in concert halls, and opportunities for corporate internships also contribute to education. That’s why the American Institute for Economic Research assesses a location’s broader learning environment in our College Destinations Index.

Here are some of the top places:

Small Metros (250K to 1 million residents)

1) Boulder, CO

2) Ann Arbor, MI

3) Bridgeport, CT

4) Trenton-Ewing NJ

College Towns (Under 250K residents)

1) Ithaca, NY

2) State College, PA

3) Iowa City, IA

4) Ames, IA

You can download a digital version of the results with a limited explanation of the data. While the benefits of this report are that it is based on statistical data, not data from students, professors and administrators, there are some interesting areas for improvement in future versions on variables such as diversity, entrepreneurial activity, and professional opportunities.

Best college towns and cities ranked –


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