When high school seniors decide which college to attend, the academic and extracurricular offerings of certain universities are usually their top consideration. On Monday, the American Institute for Economic Research released another set of criteria that they may want to contemplate: the best cities for college students.
Despite its extraordinarily high rent, San Francisco was the top city for college students among “major metro” areas—those with 2.5 million residents or more. It secured that spot thanks in part to ranking No. 1 in bars and restaurants and diversity and No. 2 in city accessibility, share of college-education population, and economic activity.
While some college listings rank universities by prestige, academics, and financial aid, the AIER data is intended to help students “weigh the value of the wider community” when choosing a college, Rosalind Greenstein, director of research and education at AIER, said in a statement.
In compiling its list, AIER weighed 11 different of criteria: youth unemployment rate, share of college-educated population, economic vitality, STEM workers, the price of rent, public transportation, availability of arts and entertainment, employees in cultural institutions, clubs and restaurants, cost of living minus rent, and diversity. The Institute also filtered its results by the size of the city.
Among midsize metro areas with populations between 1 million and 2.5 million, San Jose, California came out on top. For small metros—250,000 to 1 million residents—Boulder, Colorado was the winner, and Ames, Iowa was No. 1 for college towns with fewer than 250,000 people.
The rankings for different city sizes can be seen here.