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Consider Location, Not Just the Institution, in Picking a College

Sure, choosing a college is about the school—its reputation, size, the majors offered, etc. But it's also about location. Students will call that city their home for the next four-plus years.

The American Institute for Economic Research has developed a College Destination Index to give students a snapshot of 75 college destinations, looking at 12 criteria when ranking cities and towns. For academic envionment, the analysis considered such variables as student diverstiy, research expenditures per capita, and degree attainment among the population. The quality of life criteria included cost of living and the number of cultural venues for the size of the community. To rate professional opportunities, AIER looked at income per capita and the unemployment rate.

There is an interactive map on the AIER website for all college cities and towns, but here are the top destinations by size in the new rankings released today:

Top Five Major Metros:

1. New York City

2. Boston

3. Washington

4. San Francisco

5. Minneapolis-St. Paul.

Top Five Mid-Sized Metros:

1. San Jose, Calif.

2. Austin, Texas

3. Pittsburgh, Penn.

4. Buffalo, N.Y.

5. Raliegh, N.C.

Top 5 Small Metros:

1. Boulder, Colo.

2. Ann Arbor, Mich.

3. Madison, Wisc.

4. Durham, N.C.

5. Gainsville, Fla.

The Top Five College Towns:

1. Ithaca, N.Y.

2. Ames, Iowa

3. State College, Penn.

4. Crestview, Fla.

5. Iowa City, Iowa

AIER is based in Great Barringon, Mass., and produces independent economic research.

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