These Are The Best College Towns Ranked By State

Whether you're a city slicker or love that small-town charm, choosing a college is a huge decision. A lot of that decision rides on location, and knowing which school has the biggest curb appeal will help make that decision a little easier. Here are the schools in the United States with the coolest locations...

Tuscaloosa, AL

The University of Alabama is one of the US's biggest schools. The surrounding town must have some draw considering the large student body. 21,000 students are enrolled, which makes up for 25% of Tuscaloosa's population. It's rated one of the country's most livable cities for young people.

Fairbanks, AK

While Alaska isn't exactly the first place that comes to mind when you think of college, Fairbanks is the city of choice for any U of Alaska alums. While this city isn't for the faint of heart when it comes to extreme temperatures, the beauty of the landscape is a major draw. If you're not afraid of the cold, you might want to consider Fairbanks.

Tempe, AZ

42,000 students currently live in Tempe thanks to its 16 different colleges and universities. The most famous is Arizona State University, whose median age is 29. The town is also incredibly vibrant and has a great nightlife and relaxation scene. The outdoors there are surely something to appreciate, too.

Fayetteville, AR

Fayetteville is actually pretty overlooked as far as college towns go, but it shouldn't be. 48% of the town's locals have a bachelor's degree, while only 30% of the entire state of Arkansas has one. There are 3 colleges and universities in Fayetteville, such as the U of Arkansas. There are also many fun bars and restaurants to entice students to enjoy life out on the town.

Berkeley, CA

Berkeley is one of California's most famous college towns. Over 72 percent of its residents have a degree, and 40,000 are currently enrolled in UC Berkeley. The town is near the technology powerhouse Silicon Valley, which makes it a great spot for ambitious students. The town is considered one of the nation's hippest places, attracting artists from all over.

Boulder, CO

If you love the outdoors, Boulder is the town for you. There are bike paths and sidewalks everywhere, encouraging residents to stay active and reduce their carbon footprint. Most Boulder residents are around 28 years old, which is 10 years younger than the country average. It's one of the country's best college towns thanks to its views, nightlife, and fun locals.

Hartford, CT

Hartford is one of the oldest cities in the United States and home to several colleges. UConn's law school, the University of Hartford, and Trinity College, all reside in the area. Many grads find employment in the healthcare fields and insurance fields, usually with Travelers and Aetna.

Newark, DE

Newark is an incredibly charming small town, which makes it perfect for newcomers to colleges who don't want a big city to call home. The University of Delaware is here, making this town vibrant and exciting. The median age is 24, thanks to all of the college students who live there.

Tallahassee, FL

Everyone who attends Florida State University loves the sun and the warm weather. Home to nine large universities, FSU is based in Tallahassee and is one of the country's largest institutions. A rival for size can be found at FSU Gainesville, but all's the same when you can live and party on the Florida coast. 

Athens, GA

No, not Athens as in Greece, but it's just as charming. The University of Georgia, along with two other schools, reside here, and UGA is the state's largest school. Athens also has a thriving music scene and is the home of groups like R.E.M., Widespread Panic, and the B52's. It's also just a quick commute from Atlanta.

Honolulu, HI

It doesn't get much better than this. Can you imagine going to school on the big island? Though Honolulu is home to 350,000 people, the school is a distance from the mainland, making it feel secluded from the bustling outside world. The city is also a great place for graduates to find jobs, making this school the perfect balance of commerce and paradise.

Rexburg, ID

While Boise might be Idaho's pride and joy, you can't discount Rexburg. The cost of living is low and the rate of student employment is high, making it a collegiate success. It's also not a party school, which is great for people who want to focus on their studies only. Brigham Young University finds its home here, and so do many Mormon students.

Champaign, IL

Chicago isn't all that's great about Illinois. Champaign is home to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and it's one of the country's biggest universities. The nightlife around the campus makes this city super fun for young people. 50% of the 65,000 have their bachelor's degrees, making the employment and graduation rates high.

Bloomington, IN

Indiana usually gets overlooked, but Bloomington is beautiful and scenic. 44% of Bloomington's population is enrolled, and the average age of residents is 24 years old. Many graduates stick around after their time at the campus is over. Just under 57% of current residents have a degree.

Ames, IA

Iowa State University resides in Ames, a top college town. The average age is 23 and half of its residents are enrolled in some form of higher education. The school's impressive facility is a big draw to serious students, and many post-graduates stay in or around Ames. With many employment opportunities, it's easy to see why Ames is a big hit.

Lawrence, KS

Lawrence is home to the University of Kansas, and over 25% of its population is enrolled at school there. The adults who stay after graduation are very well educated and more than half have a bachelor's degree. The school's mascot, the Jayhawk, is a nationally known symbol.

Lexington, KY

Kentucky has more going for it than the Derby. Lexington has great year-round enjoyment and is a hub for big tech and government companies. That means the economy is stable and many alums find stable work there. The town's 308,000 population makes it bigger than most college towns, but 30,000 of them are enrolled at the University of Kentucky.

Monroe, LA

Monroe is Louisiana's best college town. The school's fun and youthful spirit boasts an impressive amount of museums, gardens, and zoos. Big companies like Chase and CenturyLink are both headquartered there, which means tons of job opportunities for grads in the pharmacy and business fields. Many post-grads tend to stay close following graduation.

Brunswick, MN

Nothing tops the New England area when you think of idyllic college towns. Brunswick is one of the best and wins titles in being picturesque and photogenic. It's near the Atlantic coastline and is home to many Bowdoin College alums, a top liberal arts school.

College Park, MD

College Park, Maryland, is clearly named after its stunning college campuses. The University of Maryland is in a small town with tons of curb appeal. Just a few miles from Washington, D.C., students and locals can enjoy cheaper housing and outdoor spaces that attract businesses and residents alike. Not to mention all of that rich history that D.C. has to offer.

Cambridge, MA

Cambridge is home to MIT, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Harvard University. 75% of its residents have a bachelor's degree, and it's just across the river from Boston, making it the perfect balance of a booming metropolis and college town life. 

Ann Arbor, MI

Ann Arbor is home to the University of Michigan, and a third of residents have enrolled in some kind of higher education. There are lots of booming restaurants and bars, and big companies like Google, Toyota, and EPA reside here. Employment is easy and high-paying, making Ann Arbor a very enjoyable place to live.

Duluth, MN

385,000 residents live in Duluth, which borders Lake Superior. Students of the University of Michigan can enjoy a vibrant outdoor lifestyle, with miles of trails along the lake's shoreline, frosty forests, and great hills for hiking. Students can get a small-town feel and big-city vibe all at once thanks to Duluth's diverse landscapes.

Oxford, MS

Oxford, Mississippi is about as classic Southern as it gets. The town is colorful thanks to endless blossoms, large green spaces, and an old-timey, small-town feel with only 40,000 residents. Oxford repeatedly wins awards for being one of the most charming towns in the country. It's historic and integral to both the Civil War and Civil Rights eras.

Columbia, MO

The University of Missouri, Columbia College, and Stephens College all make their homes in Columbia. The beautiful small town has a thriving and classic collegiate feel. Many adults who live here have some form of higher education, and most are employed at places like Carfax, Shelter Insurance, and Columbia Insurance Group.

Bozeman, MO

Bozeman is a great town for students who love the outdoors. If you like skiing, fishing, hiking, or running, you can surely find a niche here. The town circles Montana State University and has a population of less than 60,000. Because of the biotech companies nearby, the town is mostly filled with faculty and students. 

Lincoln, NE

This midwestern city has a population of about 288,000 and has over 300 miles of hiking trails to explore. The University of Nebraska has a diverse landscape of outdoor recreation, entertainment, a booming cultural scene, museums, parks, and more. This city is quite a hotspot for young people.

Reno, NV

Reno is "The Biggest Littlest City in the World," and it's pretty clear why. The city's nightlife is one of its biggest highlights to both students and residents alike, and thanks to the fact that it's three times smaller than Vegas, it makes it much more manageable. The University of Nevada and Truckee Meadows Community College both reside here.

Hanover, NH

New England is the pinnacle of college towns, and visitors can stop by the homes of Robert Frost and Nelson Rockefeller, who both attended Dartmouth College. The town dates back to 1761 and has always been the home of literary dreamers. It's a cool college town for both artists and engineers alike.

Montclair, NJ

Montclair is an hour away from New York City and is a hustling suburban close enough to a metropolis to satisfy the best of both worlds. Montclair State University takes up most of the town's economy and brings in about 20,000 students every year. With tons of cute shops and restaurants, what more could you want?

Las Cruces, NM

New Mexico is one of the country's most picturesque states, and Las Cruces is the highlight. Though Albuquerque is the more famous city, Las Cruces boasts a low cost of living and a high employment rate, making it easily accessible to students and post-grads. Many people who live here are enrolled at New Mexico State University and Dona Ana Community College.

Ithaca, NY

Upstate New York is known for its beautiful views. Ithaca College and Cornell University both reside in Ithaca, New York, making it a hotspot for the east coast's intellectuals. Most people move into the big city after graduation, which is luckily only a few hours away. Of course, some do stay in their college town and build its economy or even become professors.

Greenville, NC

Greenville has a small-town feel with a huge population. Capping at almost 90,000, nearly a third of its residents are enrolled in schools like East Carolina University. There are three other colleges and universities nearby as well. Many professionals who live in Greenville are BMX bikers. 

Grand Forks, ND

If you've never been to North Dakota, you should consider adding Grand Forks to your list of sites to see. The University of North Dakota is here, and it's a perfect college town. With a low cost of living, small economy, and job opportunities with Amazon and Altru Health Systems, what more could you want? There are also only 55,000 residents.

Athens, OH

Athens is the quintessential college town, right next to Ohio University. Known for its foliage, Athens is a serious educational institution, which would make sense considering the name. The local college is also the town's largest employer, with only 25,000 people living there.

Norman, OK

Norman is the best college town in Oklahoma, and it's also home to the University of Oklahoma. There are three colleges in the area, and 42% of the area's residents have bachelor's degrees. While that might not seem too impressive, it's 11% higher than the national median.

Corvallis, OR

Corvallis is no Portland, but it's still an adorable college town on the pacific northwest coast. If you attend Oregon State University, Corvallis is just around the corner. If you're a graduate looking for work, apply to Hewlett-Packard and CH2M Hill. This town seems like a no-brainer for ambitious college attendees.

Pittsburgh, PA

The University of Pittsburgh, hailing in the heart of the Oakland region of Pittsburgh, is the best value college with a low cost of living and high employment rate. There are tons of mom and op shops all around, and tons of post-grad jobs waiting for you after you get your degree. Students who live in the PGH area have up to six colleges to choose from.

Providence, RI

Providence is an iconic college location. With beautiful campuses thanks to RISD, Providence College, the University of Rhode Island, and Johnson and Wales, the options for your degree are endless. Over 180,000 people live here and contribute to the incredible arts scene.

Beaufort, SC

Beaufort, South Carolina is just miles from Hilton Head Island, and enjoys warm temperatures and easy, laid-back vibes. The schools in this region are highly ranked, and some of the locations were even featured in films like "Forrest Gump." This town is home to less than 150,000 people, making Southern Hospitality a given.

Vermillion, SD

Vermillion is South Dakota's most picturesque college town. It borders the Missouri River, and the University of South Dakota is located in the city's southeastern tip. The town's stunning 34-acre park is a hub for local arts and cultural events. Though Vermillion only has about 11,000 residents, it's the state's 10th largest town.

Knoxville, TN

Knoxville is home to three of Tennessee's biggest universities. The University of Tennessee, Johnson University, and Knoxville College all make their homes there. Knoxville's residents experience a low cost of living and can enjoy the close proximity to one of the greatest parks in the nation, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. 

College Station, TX

 College Station is named College Station for a reason. Texas A&M University resides here, with a student population of 70,000, making it the biggest in the nation. Most people who live here are around 23 years old, and their campus actually has a replica of the White House's Oval Office.

Provo, UT

Brigham Young University is one of the nation's leading colleges, and the Utah school's population soars at 120,000. After college, Provo has a great arts and culture scene, and many grads stay around afterwards. It's no wonder Provo is one of the country's leading intellectual powerhouses.

Burlington, VT

Burlington has been on the rise for years, and since it's right outside the New York State border, it has a diverse range of locations. The town has tons of breweries, live music venues, and several artistic endeavors. the University of Vermont, Champlain College, and Burlington College bring in students from all over the east coast. Even the Emily Post institute, which is famous for its etiquette education, play a role in diversifying the area.

Charlottesville, VA

Charlottesville was home to Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe, and the quaint college town has maintined their charm since then. The impressive educational systems are nationally ranked, and the University of Virginia is a staple institution. Located at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains, there's also no shortage of beautiful scenery. 

Bellingham, WA

Western Washington University in Bellingham is one of the most scenic schools in the country. There are 17,000 students in attendance, and with a location near the Canadian border, most students love the outdoors. There are beautiful rivers, endless greenery, and a lakeside view. The low cost of living and high employment rate make this a dream city for lovers of the Pacific northwest.

Morgantown, WV

Known as "Almost Heaven," this is the most accurate way to describe West Virginia's Morgantown. The population is less than 30,000 and somehow boasts the strongest economies in the nation. There are endless boutiques, restaurants, and cultural historic monuments. It's been named one of the best small towns in the country numerous times.

Madison, WI

College students from Wisconsin love Madison. The historic city rests between two huge lakes, and is also the capital of the state. There are 15 colleges and universities nearby, making it one of Wisconsin's best college towns. The town sees more than 50,000 new faces every year.

Laramie, Wyoming

Laramie is one of Wyoming's most beautiful towns. It's also been recorded as a top retirement city, and students of the University of Wyoming like to keep things more upbeat. The city is called "the Gateway to the Snowy Range," and avid skiers and snowboarders love it here.

Stanford University

Stanford is noted as one of the most difficult schools in the nation. Only 5% of all applicants get in, and only the toughest of the tough make it to graduation. The are so dedicated to their studies that the school mascot is actually a tree. Located in California, the school was created by Leland and Jane Stanford in 1885 in memory of their deceased son. 

Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie Mellon University is located close to the University of Pittsburgh. Located in the city with only a 17% acceptance rate, the beautiful scenery is an excellent reward to making it into the school at all. With only 7,000 students in attendance, the school is small and elite. 

Colgate University

Colgate has been named one of the most beautiful campuses in th country, and one of the best schools in the nation. The acceptance rate is only 25%, and sits in upstate New York. The town makes up the school, and the school makes up the town. Doesn't get any more collegiate than that!

University of California, Los Angeles

Niche ranks UCLA with a perfect score, and it's pretty obvious why. The impressive institution enrolls 31,000 undergraduates each year, and admissions are very competitive. The most popular majors are Economics, Political Science, and Government. Over 91% of all students graduate.

University of Notre Dame

Notre Dame is an iconic university in Portage Township, Indiana. With 8,000 students enrolled with an 18% acceptance rate, Notre Dame is prestigious on all counts. Its popular majors are Finance, Economics, and Mechanical Engineering. 97% of students graduate. 

Duke University

Duke graduates make upwards of $76,000 after graduation. Residing in Durham, North Carolina, this mid-sized school enrolls only 6,000 students. Though most majors are equally popular, the most successful students focus on Science, Economics, and Public Policy.

Yale University

Yale only accepts 7% of its applicants. Founded in 1701, the school is the third oldest in the country. It was one of 9 colonial colleges founded before the American Revolution, and Yale and Harvard are known rivals. They each hope to earn the title of best school in the country.

University of Pennsylvania

Penn is the pride and joy of Philadelphia. Boasting a student body of 10,000 and an acceptance rate of 8%, the university is indeed an Ivy. Its close proximity to the heart of center city makes it a no-brainer for post-grads to find jobs. It has a successful athetic department and top-ranking educational departments.

Columbia University

Columbia has the best of the big city and a booming education. It's the oldest institution of higher ed New York state, and the fifth oldest in the country. The acceptance rate is only 7%, so you'd better be the top of your class if you even think of applying. 

Saint Joseph's University

St. Joseph's University is one of Philadelphia's best Catholic schools. With a small enrollment rate of 4,300, the employment rate makes up for it. The most successful students earn jobs in their fields of Marketing, Finance, and Accounting. 

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