The Best College Towns In Every State

The college experience is one of the best times in a person's life, but it really all depends on the town. Whether it's the people, the weather, the cost, or just the atmosphere, there is something special about all of the best college towns. Each state has their own shining city, but do you know their best small towns?

Tuscaloosa, AL

The University of Alabama is one of the biggest schools in the entire nation, so their surrounding town must be pretty cool. Tuscaloosa is where these students call home. Over 21,000 people are enrolled in the college which is nearly 25% of the town's population. It was rated one of the United States' most livable cities and best towns for young people. The Crimson Tide is very strong!

Fairbanks, AK

Alaska is exactly the first place you think of when you think of a college town, but Fairbanks is the city of choice for any University of Alaska alums. In the town, there are only about 32,000 people who reside there, with just over 8,300 of them being students. This school is not for the faint of heart or heat, as temperatures sometimes dip below negative 40 degrees!

Tempe, AZ

Arizona is home to one of the most vibrant college towns in the country. About 42,000 students are currently living in Tempe due to it's 16 different local colleges and universities, such as the massive Arizona State University. The median age here is 29. The town also offers tons of ways to hang out and relax in the hot Arizona sun, like local pools and water features. 

Fayetteville, AR

Arkansas might not be known for its colleges, but maybe it should be. In Fayetteville, over 48% of locals hold a Bachelor's degree. This is impressive compared to the 30% who hold one in the entire state. There are about 3 colleges and universities located in this college town, including the University of Arkansas. They also offer a wide array of bars and restaurants that make students keep coming back. 

Berkeley, CA

Everything is better on the golden coast, or at least this college town! Over 72 percent of its residents have a degree. Additionally, about 40,000 students are currently at the University of California, Berkeley.  The town is close to the highly competitive Silicon Valley, which makes it great for ambitious students. The town attracts everyone from artists to engineers as it is one of the hippest places in the nation. 

Boulder, CO

Boulder is where outdoor lovers find their people, with several bike paths and sidewalks encouraging residents to get active in this northern town. Most Boulder residents are about 28 years of age, about 10 years younger than the country's average age. There are six different colleges and universities that call this place their home. It has been named one of the best college towns in the nation due to its views, booze, and cool locals. 

Hartford, CT

The best college town is also the capital of Connecticut as well as one of the oldest cities in the US. Several colleges are also located here. The University of Connecticut's law school, the University of Hartford, and Trinity College can all be found in this area. The population of 125,000 finds employment in healthcare fields and insurance, such as Travelers and Aetna.

Newark, DE

Delaware is often a forgotten state, but this town is something to be remembered. Newark has been called one of the most charming small towns, making it perfect for collegiates. The University of Delaware is located here, making this small town into a vibrant and exciting college town. The median age is 24 due to the many thousands of its students who fill the town annually. 

Tallahassee, FL

Who wouldn't want to spend their school year in the sun? Though this school is located in Central Florida, about 35.5 percent of the town is currently enrolled at one of the city's nine colleges and universities. Florida State University is based in Tallahassee, and it's one of the largest institutions in the country. A close second might be the University of Florida's Gainesville, but that's another rivalry!

Athens, GA

Athens, Georgia is as magical as the Greek city. The University of Georgia, along with two other schools, calls this city home. UGA also happens to be the biggest university in the state. The town is famous for its thriving music scene, being the starting point for groups including R.E.M., Widespread Panic, the B52's, and Indigo Girls. It's also not far from Atlanta, making it great for employment. 

Honolulu, HI

Say aloha to this slice of paradise. It might be hard to imagine going to school on this island, but students at the University of Hawaii at Manoa have gotten used to it by now. Even though 350,000 people call Honolulu home, the distance from the mainland makes this town seem secluded from the outside world. Even better, the thriving city has plenty of opportunities for graduates. 

Rexburg, ID

The most famous city in Idaho might be Boise, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's the best. Rexburg has earned its spot in the ranks of great college towns. The cost of living in the area is very low and the rate of student employment is very high, making this town a cost-efficient one. It's not a party school either. Home to Brigham Young University, mostly Mormons live here. 

Champaign, IL

Chicago can't have all the fun. Found in the center of Illinois, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is one of the country's biggest schools. Over 30 percent of the residents are enrolled in this school, making it a huge part of local culture. About 50% of the  65,000 residents have bachelor's degrees, but they're not nerds. The nightlife and fun near this campus are what keeps students coming back. 

Bloomington, IN

Indiana might not seem like a state with beautiful landscaping, but it is. Located in Bloomington is Indiana University. Over 44 percent of the population in Bloomington is enrolled. The average age of a resident living in the town is around 24, though many graduates stick around after getting their diplomas. Just under 57 percent of current residents have a degree.

Ames, IA

Some publications have named Ames as the top college town in the entire country, and it's not hard to see why. Ames is a town holding Iowa State University inside. The average age is 23 and about half of residents are enrolled in higher education. These traits, as well as an impressive facility and many post-graduate employment opportunities, make this town one of the best. 

Lawrence, KS

The University of Kansas is based in Lawrence, Kansas. Furthermore, over 25% of its population is enrolled in school here. The median age of 27.5 is well below the country average, but the adults who stay here are very well educated and more than half of them have earned a bachelor's degree. The school's Jayhawk mascot represents one of the best basketball teams in the nation. 

Lexington, KY

Louisville has the Kentucky Derby to stir up some fun, but the year-round enjoyment can only be found in the college town of Lexington. Surprisingly, it is the tech and government companies that keep the economy stable for alums of the school. A population of more than 308,000 makes this a bigger town than most, but 30,000 of these enroll at the University of Kentucky.

Monroe, LA

Louisiana's best college town is none other than Monroe, which is where you can find the University of Louisiana. The school brings a youthful spirit to the city, but it's best known for the impressive amount of museums, gardens, and zoos. Chase and CenturyLink both are headquartered here, providing job opportunities for grads in pharmacy and business studies.

Brunswick, MN

New England is a dreamscape for college towns, but none is quite like Brunswick, which often wins titles of being a very photogenic and picturesque town. Though it boasts less than 17,000 locals, it is found near the popular Atlantic Ocean coastline. Its best known to Bowdoin College alums, which is repeatedly awarded as a top liberal arts school, founded back in 1794. 

College Park, MD

College Park was named that way for a reason. It is the home of the University of Maryland and is known to be a small town with impressive perks. Only a few miles from Washington, D.C., both locals and students here enjoy cheaper housing and wider greenspaces that attract business and residents alike. Both of them enjoy the low cost as well as the open area. 

Cambridge, MA

Massachusetts is home to several of the top universities and colleges, but Cambridge is home to the best of the best: Harvard University. Just across the river from Boston, over 75 percent of adult residents have at least a bachelor's degree. This is the highest concentration of higher education in the country. Also located here is the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, also known as MIT. 

Ann Arbor, MI

A third of Ann Arbor residents have enrolled in higher education, which makes sense with all their great choices. The University of Michigan is here, as well as three other colleges. There are also tons of dining options, about 362 per every 100,000 people. Google, Toyota, and the Environmental Protection Agency have all set up shop in this area, making employment easy and high paying. 

Duluth, MN

Duluth is a larger college town, having about 385,000 residents bordering Lake Superior. The residents of Duluth should be outdoor types, as there miles of trails along the shoreline as well as frosty forests and high hills. Home to a branch of the University of Minnesota, students and residents get a small-town environment and a big city feel all at once!

Oxford, MS

If you want to see the Old South, you need to see Oxford, Mississippi. The town boasts tons of colorful and flowering blossoms, large green spaces, and a small-town feel with only 40,000 residents. Oxford is repeatedly named one of the most charming towns in the USA due to these traits. It's also very historic, having been integral in both the Civil War and the civil rights movement.

Columbia, MO

Who knew Missouri was so beautiful? The University of Missouri, Columbia College, and Stephens College sit in the heart of this small town. About 26 percent of locals in the area are students, which makes sense in this thriving college town. Many adults living here had a higher education--more than half of them! They find jobs at places like Carfax, Shelter Insurance, and Columbia Insurance Group.

Bozeman, MO

If you like the great outdoors, Montana is the place for you. Whether you prefer skiing or fishing, hiking or running, there is something for everyone in the naturistic town of Bozeman. The college town circles Montana State University and has a population of less than 60,000. Though there are some biotech companies in the area, this place is mostly filled with students and faculty.

Lincoln, NE

Nebraska might not seem like much, but they've got a lot in store. This midwestern city boasts a population of about 288,000 people and over 300 miles of trails to explore. The city holds the University of Nebraska in its limits, as well as impressively diverse outdoor recreation, consistent entertainment, cultural endeavors, museums, gardens, and more! This capital city is quite a hotspot. 

Reno, NV

The city of Reno is sometimes referred to as "The Biggest Little City in the World" and it's easy to see why. The nightlife in this college town makes it a favorite for students and residents alike. However, there's more than meets the eye in Reno. A population 3x smaller than Las Vegas, this city holds the key to the University of Nevada as well as Truckee Meadows Community College.

Hanover, NH

There's nothing like a quaint New England small town. Here, visitors can see the stomping grounds of Robert Frost and Nelson Rockefeller, both of whom attended Dartmouth College in their earlier days. This is certainly a town for the overachievers and the dreamers. The town dates back to 1761, making it a historic site in more ways than one. Now that's a cool college town!

Montclair, NJ

Sitting just under an hour away from New York City, Montclair is a suburban haven away from the hustle and bustle of city living. This suburban metropolis has plenty of shops and boutiques for those who prefer the finer things in life, as well as many mom and pop stores. Montclair State University takes up most of this town's economy by bringing in 20,000 students every year. 

Las Cruces, NM

New Mexico has some of the most beautiful views of any state, and Las Cruces is no exception. Though Albuquerque gets most of the fame for its colleges, the low cost of living and high employment rates make this city a favorite for students. The city limits are filled with people enrolled at New Mexico State University and Dona Ana Community College. 

Ithaca, NY

New York City might get all the recognition, but upstate NY is worth a look as well. Ithaca College and Cornell University have both set up shop in this quaint small town, making it a hotspot for some of the best minds in the country. Most people move after graduation, but they go from a tiny country college to the Big Apple, which is only four hours away. 

Greenville, NC

With the feel of a small town, Greenville will probably surprise you with its huge population. Almost 90,000 people call this town home and nearly a third of residents are enrolled in school. Nearby, there are four colleges and universities, including East Carolina University. It is also home to most of the professional BMX bikers, and is sometimes called "BMX Pro Town USA." 

Grand Forks, ND

North Dakota might sound uneventful, but visit Grand Forks and you'll be forced to reconsider. Home to the University of North Dakota, Grand Forks has all the attributes of a perfect college town. The small town boasts a low cost of living and a strong economy, as well as ample post-grad opportunities such as Amazon and Altru Health Systems. There are 55,000 residents. 

Athens, OH

No surprise here, the town associated with Ohio University is the quintessential college town. Known for its impressive amount of trees, Athens, Ohio is also famous for its dedication to higher learning, hence the town name of Athens. Only 25,000 people live in this town, so it makes sense that the largest employer in the area is also the local college. 

Norman, OK

Norman takes the title of best college town in Oklahoma. Based here is the University of Oklahoma, and nearly 25 percent of its residents are enrolled in higher education. There are three colleges in the area. Rather impressively, about 42 percent of the residents hold at least a bachelor's degree. While this might sound low, it's about 11 percent higher than the national median!

Corvallis, OR

Right in the heart of the Cascade Range, you'll find the college town of Corvallis, one of the best locations to reside in if you're an outdoorsy person. If you also want to attend school here, Oregon State University is right there. Hewlett-Packard and CH2M Hill are located nearby for post-grads looking for work, although it shouldn't be hard considering this is one of the smartest towns in the country. 

Pittsburgh, PA

Though Pittsburgh might be a bustling city, the University of Pittsburgh (also known as Pitt) sits nearby in a suburban setting. Repeatedly named the best value college for the low cost of living and high employment rates, the town also has a myriad of mom and pop shops and ample post-graduate opportunities that make this steel city one to be admired. Students in the area attend one of six local colleges.

Providence, RI

It's no surprise that this beautiful campus would be the best college town in the state. The capital of Rhode Island is home to prestigious universities like Brown University, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence College, the University of Rhode Island, and Johnson & Wales in the city limits. Over 180,000 live here and contribute to Providence's thriving art and cuisine scenes. 

Beaufort, SC

Just away from Hilton Head Island, Beaufort enjoys warmer-than-average temperatures and easy, laid-back living. The University of South Carolina is located here and is highly ranked amongst other schools. Additionally, some of the famous features from "Forrest Gump," were originally shot here. This small town holds less than 15,000 residents, so Southern Hospitality is always ready. 

Vermillion, SD

South Dakota's best college town is Vermillion. Bordering the Missouri River, Vermillion and the University of South Dakota are both located in this southeastern city. The town has an astonishing 34-acre park that acts as the hotspot for local arts and cultural events. South Dakota is filled with small towns, and though Vermillion only has 11,000 people, it is the 10th largest town in the state. 

Knoxville, TN

The University of Tennessee, Johnson University, Knoxville College, and more all love living in Knoxville, TN. The city contains less than 190,000 residents. These residents expect a low cost of living and spend their money on multiple great schools in the area. Additionally, they enjoy close proximity to the most popular park in the nation: The Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

College Station, TX

Everything is bigger in Texas, even the small towns. Here, you can find Texas A&M University, which has the biggest U.S student population of almost 70,000. Most people who live here are around the age of 23, which is not very surprising considering how important the school is to the town. Fun fact: their campus has an exact replica of the Oval Office used by the President. 

Provo, UT

Although there are several different sources of higher education here, Brigham Young University is the clear leader of the institutions. The population of the Utah college is somewhere around 120,000. What happens to the students after graduation? Well, considering Provo has a thriving arts and culture scene, many are enticed to stay close after earning their degrees.

Burlington, VT

Just outside the New York State border, Burlington is well known to be a town on the rise. Thanks to its new artsy scene, the town now offers quirky twists like breweries, live music, and several artistic endeavors. The University of Vermont, Champlain College, and Burlington College all bring in new residents. Even the Emily Post Institute, famous for its etiquette education, contribute to the area.  

Charlottesville, VA

Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe have both been raised by this quaint college town, and have experienced its charm and impressive educational system firsthand.  Based in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Charlottesville is the town of the University of Virginia. There is also quite a lot of history on these grounds, due to the inherent historical nature of Virginia as a whole. 

Bellingham, WA

If you're headed out west, make sure you stop to see Bellingham. Western Washington University is based here to welcome over 17,000 students. The nearby Canadian border, beautiful rivers, and exceptional greenery provide Bellingham's 90,000 locals with lots of outdoor recreation. Once again, a low cost of living and a high employment rate make this town one of the best for collegiates. 

Morgantown, WV

West Virginia is known as "Almost Heaven," but maybe it'll be more concrete after you stop in Morgantown. Though the population is less than 30,000, it somehow has created one of the strongest economies in the entire nation. It houses boutiques, restaurants, and cultural curiosities in its historic city center. It has been repeatedly named one of the best small towns in the US. 

Madison, WI

Madison, Wisconsin, is the choice for most college students in the state. The historic city sits right in between two giant lakes. Additionally, it is also the capital of Wisconsin. With 15 colleges and universities nearby, Madison is repeatedly put on lists of best college towns. Thanks to schools like The University of Wisconsin and others, more than 50,000 students move here every year. 

Laramie, Wyoming

The taxes are low but the good times are frequent in Laramie, Wyoming. It has also been recorded as a top retirement city as well, but don't tell the students that. Students of the University of Wyoming or WyoTech probably want to keep things a little more upbeat in their great state. The city is called the "Gateway to the Snowy Range" so bring some snowshoes for freshman year!

Stanford University

This school is one of the most difficult in the nation. Accepting only 5% of all applicants, Stanford is known for the impressive minds it molds. They're so dedicated to academics that their students voted on a mascot and picked a tree, something non-threatening and easy. Located in Stanford, California, the university was created in 1885 by Leland and Jane Stanford in memory of their deceased child, Leland Stanford Jr.

Carnegie Mellon University

CMU has Pittsburgh as a partner in crime. The rustbelt city provides an urban backdrop to this suburban campus that offers only a 17% acceptance rate. The school is small, only educating less than 7,000 students, but the history is rich. Founded by Andrew Carnegie, the school excels in everything from arts and culture to math and science. 

Colgate University

It's not just a toothpaste, it's a school! Repeatedly named one of the most beautiful campuses in the world, Colgate University is one of the best schools in the nation. Boasting an acceptance rate of only 25%, this college is nestled in the heart of upstate NY. The town is the school and the school is the town, it doesn't get much more small-town than that!

University of California, Los Angeles

UCLA received a perfect score on Niche, and it's not surprising. This massively impressive institution has an enrollment number of 31,009 undergraduates. Admissions are very competitive as only 14% gain admittance. Popular majors are Economics, Political Science and Government, and Sociology, though there are several success stories from all majors. Over 91% of students graduate. 

University of Notre Dame

Notre Dame is a great school located in Portage Township, Indiana. It is a mid-sized school that has 8,607 undergraduates enrolled. The Notre Dame acceptance rate is 18%, making admittance difficult and rare. Some of the most popular majors include Finance, Economics, and Mechanical Engineering. About 97% of students graduate from the school.

Duke University

The median salary for graduates of Duke is somewhere around $76,000. Found in Durham, North Carolina, this mid-size school has 6,659 undergraduates enrolled. The Duke acceptance rate is only 9%, making it one of the most elite schools in the nation. Though most majors find success, the top earners are from the Computer Science, Economics, and Public Policy Analysis programs. 

Yale University

Think you can make it at Yale? Good luck, this place only accepts 7% of all applicants. oFunded in 1701,the school is the third oldest higher education instution in the entire country. it was also one of the 9 Colonial Colleges created before the American Revolution. Yale is often associated with Harvard as both rival each other for the title of best school in the country. 

University of Pennsylvania

The University of Pennsylvania, also known as Penn, is located in Philadelphia, PA. Boasting 10,605 undergraduates and an acceptance rate of only 8%, this university is an often-forgotten Ivy. Thanks to it's close proximity to the big city, the school offers quick employment for graduates. Aside from its lackluster athletics, it receives top scores in most categories. 

Columbia University

Some of the brightest minds know that there's no place like New York City, and what better school to combine both high intelligence and great location than Columbia? It is the oldest institution of higher education in the state of New York and the fifth oldest in the entire country. Their acceptance rate is only 7%, so rest assured that only the smartest get to enjoy this campus. 

Saint Joseph's University

St. Joe's, better known among the public as St. Joseph's University, is a Catholic university found in the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Though it is a rather small institution, only enrolling about 4,350 undergraduate students, the employment rates for this school are high. Popular majors at the university include paths in Marketing, Finance, and Accounting.

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