There are nearly 7,000 degree-granting colleges and graduate schools spread across the United States. These institutions of higher learning instruct those enrolled there in many fields, developing them intellectually and preparing them for specific careers. In addition to conferring degrees, colleges and universities have a broad impact on the culture and economy of their home cities and towns.
American cities whose economy and culture are widely impacted by the local universities and colleges are known simply as college towns — and are considered by many to be idyllic places to live. They tend to be affordable, culturally vibrant communities, with healthy economies and a young, well-educated population. It is certainly no coincidence that several of the best cities to live in every state are college towns.
Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, 24/7 Wall St. identified the 30 best college towns in America. Cities were ranked based on the share of residents enrolled in a graduate or undergraduate institution. A large share of student residents is indicative of the significant influence of universities on a town.
Though the best college towns are typically home to multiple higher education institutions — from community colleges to graduate schools — most often, a single school accounts for the vast majority of students. Many of the cities on this list are home to some of the largest universities — as measured by total enrollment — in the country.
The presence of major universities in many of the cities on this list often indicates a better-educated population than average. Bachelor’s degree attainment rates in these cities are driven up by university professors and graduate program enrollment. With the sole exception of Muncie, Indiana, every city on this list is home to a larger share of adults with a bachelor’s degree than the 30.9% share of adults nationwide — some even rank among the best educated cities in the country. Here is a full list of the most educated city in each state.