State College Ranked Third Best College Town

We don’t need a survey to tell us how great State College is, but I’m certainly happy to have one.

The American Institute for Economic Research (AIER) released its 2013-2014 college town rankings this weekend, and once again, Penn State came in third. Ithaca, NY (Cornell, Ithaca College) and Ames, IA (Iowa State) filled out the top three. Iowa City, IA (Iowa, 5) and Champaign-Urbana, IL (Illinois, 7) are the only other Big Ten schools in the top 10.

Rather than just gush “State College looks nice and the nightlife is fun” like most of us, AIER uses 12 quantitative economic categories to come up with its ranking. Penn State registered in the top-20 in all 12 categories, which was enough to propel it to number 3.

The categories include:

  • Student concentration #3 (272.8 students per 1,000 population)
  • Student diversity #5 (12% non-US resident enrollment)
  • Research capacity #2 ($5,137 research expenditure per capita)
  • Degree attainment #6 (53% of 25-34 population with a bachelor’s degree or higher)
  • Arts & Leisure #12 (36.8 establishments per 100,000 population)
  • City Accessibility #3 (17.4% of workers use public transportation, bike, or walk to work)
  • Creative Class #10 (39.7% percent of works in the “creative class”)
  • Cost of Living #17 ($964 average 2-bedroom rent)
  • Earning Potential #14 ($33,473 average income per capita)
  • Entrepreneurial Activity #11 (7.8 net increase in total # of businesses per 100,000 population)
  • Unemployment Rate #16 (5.4%)
  • Brain Drain or Gain #14 (0.993 year-over-year ratio of population with BA degree living in the area)

“The ‘college experience’ is about more than simply attending a top-notch university,” AIER disclaims. “The city or town where the school is located also is important. The people students meet, the places they go, and the jobs they may hold are essential supplements to formal education.”

At Penn State, we’re lucky to have the best of all of those things.

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About the Author

Kevin Horne

Kevin Horne was the editor of Onward State from 2012-2014 and currently holds the position of Managing Editor Emeritus, which is a fake title he made up. He graduated from Penn State with degrees journalism and political science in 2014 and is currently seeking his J.D. at the Penn State Dickinson School of Law. A third generation Penn Stater from Williamsport, Pa., Kevin is also the president of the graduate student government. Email: [email protected]


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