5 Best College Towns


College tuition fees might not be able to detract a student’s desire to study at a specific college, with the availability of student loans and financial aid.

However all bets are off if the town or city where your college is located is downright scary, restrictive, or boring!

One of the reasons kids go away to college is to experience “adult” life on their own in a new place to meet new people and have new and exciting adventures.

So before you send in your application, know first which college towns will give you the best college experience of your life.

#1 Cambridge, Massachusetts


Cambridge Massachusetts – photo source: en.wikipedia.org

Famous Colleges in Cambridge:

Student Population: 29,565

Why Cambridge is the Best College Town:

Cambridge, Massachusetts is home to several colleges noted for their quality education.

Harvard University and MIT are both colossal employers and higher education institutions that produce alumni who have garnered international fame in different fields.

Other large companies also have headquarters in Cambridge such as: Google, Pfizer, and Microsoft Research.

In fact, retailer giant Amazon.com is planning to open a center there, too!

So there are plenty of technology companies around the city to either do an internship at while you are attending college, or you can work at one of the companies after you get your graduate degree.

Here’s some other interesting places where you can get some good education and history, while having a good time:

  • Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory
  • Lincoln Institute of Land Policy
  • National Bureau of Economic Research

Now if these places don’t entice you to study at a college in Cambridge, check out the vibrant social life and nature parks that will provide you with a healthy and exciting work-life balance.

The town started as Newe Towne or Newtowne, which is why Harvard was once called New College.

Eventually the town’s name became Cambridge, after the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom (the second oldest university after Oxford University in the English-speaking world).

#2 Ann Arbor, Michigan


Ann Arbor Michigan – photo source: wikipedia.org

Famous Colleges in Ann Arbor:

  • University of Michigan
  • Concordia University
  • Cleary University
  • Penny W. Stamps School of Art and Design
  • Ann Arbor Institute of Massage Therapy

Student Population: 59,000

Why Ann Arbor is the 2nd Best College Town:

Ann Arbor, Michigan is actually a city – not a town. But most of the residents are students from the colleges around the city that it might as well be one.

The University of Michigan, situated in Ann Arbor, hosts some of the biggest and most attended activities and events in the city

Their football games are always a large celebration, and everyone, whether a U of M student or not, are invited to watch and cheer for their favorite players.

There are also other centers that are worth visiting (or working for) in Ann Arbor.

Google Adwords is situated there. In fact, one of the founders of Google, Larry Page, graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in computer engineering.

Ann Arbor is also home to the Toyota company, academic digital library JSTOR, and the Environmental Protection Agency.

The city also offers bike trails, hiking paths, bars, restaurants, museums, and other social areas where residents and tourists can have fun.

Ann Arbor got its name from its founders who named the town after their wives (who were both named “Ann”) and because the place had the appearance of an arbor. They called it “Ann’s Arbor”, until it just became Ann Arbor.

#3 Ames, Iowa


Ames Iowa – photo courtesy: iastate.edu

Famous College in Ames: Iowa State University and its colleges

Student Population: 33,241

Why Ames is the 3rd Best College Town:

Ames, Iowa is the proud home of the Iowa State University, which leads the country in terms of agriculture, design, engineering, and veterinary science

It was the first ever land-grant university in the country.

Ames also hosts several scientific centers:

  • National Veterinary Services Laboratory
  • Center for Veterinary Biologics of the country’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services (APHIS)
  • Agricultural Research Service’s National Animal Disease Center

Ames is not as filled with higher education schools as other towns, but Ames is considered one of the best places to live; hence, it’s also one of the best places to host college towns who consider the city their home.

In fact, CNN Money named Ames one of the best places to live in (it’s number 9 on the list). It’s not so hard to imagine since the city has a small town feel, has various local job and development opportunities for the students, and has a vibrant social and night-life.

The city of Ames didn’t start as a city, but as a small town.

It was actually named after Oakes Ames, a guy who had never even been to the town, but was named by a close friend

It was incorporated in 1870, when then Iowa Agricultural College and Model Farm started accepting students

Now, it’s the Iowa State University, and has seen 36,000 students through its gates.

#4 Boulder, Colorado


Beuatiful Boulder Colorado showing the college – photo source: colorado.edu

Famous Colleges in Boulder:

  • University of Colorado-Boulder
  • Naropa University
  • Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts
  • Southwest Acupuncture College-Boulder
  • Boulder College of Massage Therapy
  • Montessori Education Center of the Rockies

Student Population: 47,000

Why Boulder is the 4th Best College Town:

Boulder, Colorado is one of the best places to be an artist. It’s also one of the best places to be a college student.

It is a beautiful place, with small, local stores, several museums, art centers, and dance studios.

It is a colorful place, and although it’s classified as a city, you walk to your destination or either that ride a bike or take the reliable public transit!

Boulder is a beautiful place to go on a nature hike. Buildings are regulated, so that no infrastructure will block the view of the mountains. How cool is that?

Aside from the beautiful surrounding natural areas, the city hosts artistic, cultural, and intellectual centers like:

  • Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art
  • University of Colorado Art Museum
  • The Geological Society of America
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrations
  • The Space Science Institute

The city is well known for its history, since its beauty had drawn hippies in the late 1960s.

It’s not cheesy, though. Boulder offers its residents and tourists history and culture without being sappy.

#5 Berkeley, California


Berkeley California showing the “Berkeley Tower” – photo source: berkeley.ca.us

Famous Colleges in Berkeley:

  • University of California-Berkeley
  • Berkeley City College
  • Franciscan School of Theology
  • Pacific School of Religion
  • Wright Institute
  • Church Divinity School of the Pacific
  • New College Berkeley
  • Zaytuna College
  • Western Institute for Social Research
  • Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology

Student Population: 35,000

Why Berkeley is the 5th Best College Town:

Berkeley is one of the most exciting cities in California, and that’s saying alot since you can see California action within just a span of a few days.

Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Beverly Hills, Malibu, Long Beach, and Pasadena are just some of the hotspots of social activity and fun.

Beaches, bars, art and dance studios, and large colleges all make Berkeley an attractive place to be a college student.

If you’re into politics, you’ll definitely love the place. It’s not surprising to see rallies and activist groups marching up and down the streets in Berkeley.

Berkeley is located just across Silicon Valley, and many of its residents have also joined the internet and technology industry.

UC Berkeley is consistently ranked in the top universities around the world.

Also UC Berkeley may be a state university, but it’s the best public college in the entire country.

It’s just around $23,000 – $33,000 a year to attend (which is definitely not as high as some expensive colleges), but it has produced a great number of influential people like:

  • The founders of MySpace
  • Pokémon Go
  • eBay
  • CEOs of Match.com
  • IndieGoGo
  • and more

Berkeley is young and hip, and is perfect for a college student. It’s a mix of modern and historical, arts and science, and different cultures.

Berkeley was actually named after George Berkeley – he was not the founder of the place. In fact, George Berkeley wasn’t part of any pioneering teams that went to California.

Instead, one of the founders from the College of California remembered a passage from George Berkeley’s works (the man was a bishop and philosopher), and thought that the town and new college should be named after him.

Thankfully, the rest complied. If they hadn’t, the place and university might have been saddled with the name “Billingsgate” or “Shelterdue”.

Rob Clark

SchoolCampus.org admin staff managing editor

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