The 10 best—and worst—college towns for 2018, ranked

The home of the University of Michigan is the best college town in America, according to a recent analysis by WalletHub.

To produce the ranking, analysts compared 415 small, medium, and large U.S. cities with college student populations of 7,500 or more. Then, they evaluated each city based on 28 factors across three categories: "wallet friendliness," "social environment," and "academic and economic opportunities." To evaluate each factor, analysts used a range of data sources, including federal sources like the U.S. Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics as well as travel websites like TripAdvisor and Yelp.

According to WalletHub, the 10 best college towns (across all city sizes) are:

  1. Ann Arbor, MI
  2. Orlando, FL
  3. Rexburg, ID
  4. Provo, UT
  5. Austin, TX
  6. Las Vegas, NV
  7. Scottsdale, AZ
  8. West Lafayette, IN
  9. Tampa, FL
  10. San Diego, CA

The 10 happiest cities in America

According to WalletHub, the 10 lowest-ranked college towns are:

  1. New Rochelle, NY
  2. East Los Angeles, CA
  3. Brookline, MA
  4. Shreveport, LA
  5. Kendall, FL
  6. Bridgeport, CT
  7. Newton, MA
  8. Arlington, VA
  9. Silver Spring, MD
  10. Germantown, MD

Ann Arbor, home of the University of Michigan, has received previous recognition as a great college town. It appeared at No. 7 on last year's WalletHub ranking and at No. 1 for small cities on a 2017 list of the best places for new grads.

Last year, WalletHub spoke to a number of experts about the town-gown relationship.

"Local authorities, businesses, and higher education institutions should work together to strengthen civic indicators from educational outcomes, reduced crime rates, and more accessible public transportation," said Michael Harris, an associate professor of higher education and the director of the Center for Teaching Excellence at Southern Methodist University. "Universities and city leaders need to work in partnership to ensure safe, affordable, and accessible housing options are available," Harris added.

Several of the experts also said community service events can improve a college town's appeal. "These outreach efforts often help build positive town-gown relationships," said Amanda Rutherford, an assistant professor in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University.

Other improvements experts suggested include:

  • Supporting local parks;
  • Investing in local arts programs;
  • Supporting safety entities like police and fire departments; and
  • Attracting local businesses that can hire students and graduates.

(Bernardo, WalletHub, 12/12).

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