Turns out, the rankings for best college towns depend on way more than how many bars are featured in each town square and how many half-smoked cigarettes and condoms litter the gutters come Monday.
The American Institute of Economic Research pulls data from a host of federal agencies -- the Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, National Science Foundation and Small Business Administration -- to create the "AIER College Destinations Index,” or AIER CDI for short.
“The characteristics that make up a great college destination often make a location ideal for business, retirement and tourism," said Steven Cunningham, director of research and education for AIER. "A top AIER College Destinations Index ranking should be just as important to the town or city as it is to the schools located there and the families and students attending or considering them.”
So check out AIER's top 10 best college towns below, and see the rest of the top 75 here.
10. Columbia, Mo.
The University of Missouri
9. Morgantown, W.Va.
West Virginia University
8. Lawrence, Kan.
The University of Kansas
7. Lafayette, Ind.
Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana, Harrison College and Purdue University
6. Champaign-Urbana, Ill.
University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana <strong>Correction: an earlier version of this slide misspelled Champaign.</strong>
5. Corvallis, Ore.
Oregon State University
4. Iowa City, Iowa
University of Iowa
3. State College, Pa.
2. Ames, Iowa
Iowa State University
1. Ithaca, N.Y.
Cornell University and Ithaca College
The AIER rated towns using the following criteria:
- Student Concentration: number of college students per 1,000 population
- Student Diversity: percentage of student body that are non-U.S. residents
- Research Capacity: academic R&D expenditures per capita
- Degree Attainment: percent of the 25-to-34-year-old population with bachelor’s degree or higher
- Cost of Living: based upon average rent for a 2-bedroom apartment
- Arts and Leisure: number of cultural and entertainment venues per 100,000 population
- City Accessibility: percentage of workers over age 16 who commute on foot or by public transportation or bicycle
- Creative Class: percentage of workforce in the arts, education, knowledge industries, science and engineering, management and other fields
- Earning Potential: income per capita
- Entrepreneurial Activity: net annual increase in total number of business establishments per 100,000 population
- Brain Gain/Drain: year-over-year ratio of population with B.A. degree (it is only population with B.A degree, not all the college level) living in the area
- Unemployment rate