America’s college towns tend to be some of the best places to live – not just for students, teachers, and academic staff, but for retirees, refugees from big cities, and anyone else looking for an environment providing intellectual stimulation, good restaurants and farmers’ markets, thriving arts and music scenes, and often access to national parks or other recreational facilities.
Desirable college towns are usually affordable, with healthy economies and a young, well-educated population. They pride themselves on their history, bask in the accomplishments of college sports teams, and are often home to good art museums and landmark architecture. (These are the best American small towns for the arts.)
To determine the best college towns in America, 24/7 Tempo developed an index based on 11 metrics measuring quality of life for college students in cities, villages, towns, and census-designated places, considering only those locations with populations of 5,000 or greater where at least 20% of residents are enrolled in a college or university.
The population of college towns tends to have attained a higher level of education than those in a typical U.S. city. All but two of the 50 best college towns on our list have a bachelor’s degree attainment rate higher than the national rate of 33.7%. Some even rank among the most educated cities in the country. (On the other hand, these are America’s least college-educated states.)
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