The 10 best college towns for 2019

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The 10 best college towns for 2019

When it comes to selecting a college or university, an institution’s local community can influence a student’s decision almost as much as the school itself—which is why personal finance and credit report company WalletHub releases an annual list of the best college towns in the country.

To create the 2019 ranking, WalletHub analysts compared 415 U.S. cities of varying sizes with student populations of 7,500 or more. Then, they evaluated each city based on 30 factors across three categories: wallet friendliness, social environment, and academic and economic opportunities.

To evaluate each factor, analysts used a range of data sources, including federal sources like the U.S. Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics as well as travel websites like TripAdvisor and Yelp.

According to WalletHub, the 10 best college towns for 2019 are:

1. Austin, TX
2. Orlando, FL
3. Ann Arbor, MI
4. Provo, UT
5. Rexburg, ID
6. Stevens Point, WI
7. Tampa, FL
8. West Lafayette, IN
9. Scottsdale, AZ
10. Las Vegas, NV

And the 10 lowest-ranked college towns for 2019 are:

406. East Los Angeles, CA
407. Towson, MD
408. Bridgeport, CT
409. Kendall, FL
410. Arlington, VA
411. Silver Spring, MD
412. Newton, MA
413. New Rochelle, NY
414. Shreveport, LA
415. Germantown, MD

Learn more: How one university is turning its town into a university town

Austin, Texas earned the top spot on WalletHub’s list this year, beating out Ann Arbor, Michigan, last year‘s top-ranked college town. Austin has received previous recognition as a great college town. The Texas capital appeared at No. 5 on last year’s WalletHub ranking and at No. 2 on a 2017 list of the best mid-size cities for new grads.

This year, WalletHub asked experts how college towns can make themselves more appealing to both prospective students and residents.

“Economic development is critical,” says Shannon Calderone, an assistant professor of educational leadership at Washington State University. She recommends monitoring local options for transportation, shopping and dining, and affordable housing. “I would also pay close attention to the town-gown dynamic. How the two work effectively together is critical to a town’s success,” she adds.

Still, students can take advantage of whatever town or city they choose to learn in. “I would say there may not be a ‘best’ option, but it is good to be aware of the opportunities available in whichever city or college-town you locate,” says Sarah Hicks, an associate professor and chair Rockhurst University‘s School of Education. “For instance, here in Kansas City, a student’s education can be enhanced by access to the Nelson Art Museum, the World War I Memorial and Museum, a STEAM Studio in Westport, diverse school settings for teacher education placements” (McCann, WalletHub, 12/11).

Related: The top 10 cities millennial grads flock to

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