The “college experience” is about more than simply attending a top-notch university. 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.

AIER’s 2014-2015 College Destinations Index measures the informal learning environment. Data for Metropolitan Statistical Areas in the U.S. are collected and ranked into four categories based on population. The top 75 College Destinations are identified from among 271 census regions with 10,000 students or more across the U.S. The CDI offers an objective look at measures covering 12 key criteria in 4 categories that powerfully impact the student experience:

Student Life
Economic Health

In this slideshow, we put together the Top 20 College Towns, with populations under 250,000 residents. 

Click here to see the full map of our Top 75 College Destinations.