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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – It’s the time of year when lots of high school seniors are trying to decide where to go to college.
Oftentimes, the town or city where the school is located can be a big factor in that decision. WalletHub just came out with a survey of schools and their hometowns to come up with their 2018 “Best College Towns & Cities in America” ranking.
The organization looked at 415 college cities and towns of varying sizes and evaluated them against a broad list of criteria, from the quality of the education a student will get, right down to how much it costs to eat out at a local restaurant.
Does the town have amenities like shopping and nightlife? If it’s smaller, is it accessible to a larger metropolitan area? How does it stack up in terms of the affordability of off-campus housing and general cost of living, things like the cost of fitness clubs, and even pizza and burgers? Is it safe? Does it have economic opportunities, like part-time jobs and internships?
Ann Arbor, Michigan, home of the University of Michigan, was ranked as the overall best college city in the country, and the best among small college cities. Among mid-size cities, Orlando, Florida, home to a number of colleges including the University of Central Florida and Rollins College, was ranked number one.
Austin, Texas, home of the University of Texas at Austin was the best large-city school town.
Local college towns made the cut, too.
On the overall “best” list, Pittsburgh ranked No. 48, State College, home of Penn State University, came in at No. 82. Morgantown, West Virginia, home to West Virginia University was No. 135 and Indiana, Pennsylvania, home to Indiana University of Pennsylvania, was No. 241.
Professor Steven Bingham of Gardner-Webb University, commenting on the survey, pointed out that while most student-related activities take place on campus, being part of a vibrant wider community can benefit students.
There are “increased athletic and arts events, opportunities to take classes, and opportunities to enjoy libraries, speakers and other intellectual pursuits,” Bingham said.
Professor Mark D’Amico, of the University of Carolina at Charlotte, told WalletHub that these benefits could extend beyond lifestyle to valuable internships and long-term job prospects. He said that Amazon’s recent call for proposals to locate its second headquarters specified that a city with a robust higher education community would be an influencing factor in the company’s decision.
Pittsburgh, home to nationally known universities like the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University, is one of more than 200 cities to submit proposals for Amazon’s HQ2.