The 10 Best College Towns, According to General Quality of Life

  • 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

According to the study, here are the very best college towns. Via Huffington Post College:

10. Columbia, Mo. — The University of Missouri

9. Morgantown, W.Va. — West Virginia University

8. Lawrence, Kan. — The University of Kansas

7. Lafayette, Ind. — Purdue University, Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana, and Harrison College

6. Champagne-Urbana, Ill. — University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana

5. Corvallis, Ore. — Oregon State University

4. Iowa City, Iowa — University of Iowa

3. State College, Pa. — Penn State

2. Ames, Iowa — Iowa State University

1. Ithaca, N.Y. — Cornell University and Ithaca College

Sounds about right. I'm a little surprised Morgantown made the list (…have you ever watched MTV's “Buckwild”?) over, say, Boulder or Santa Barbara, but clearly that's because the general population in those towns outweigh the student population. Anywhere else missing?

Pic of Ithaca, NY via Wikipedia.