2010-2011 College Destinations
2010-2011 College Destinations describes in-detail the broader learning environments of the top 40 college cities and towns.
It isn’t just about professors and classes. Conversations in coffee houses, performances in concert halls, and opportunities for corporate internships also contribute to education. That’s why the American Institute for Economic Research assesses a location’s broader learning environment in our College Destinations Index.
The index subdivides more than 360 metropolitan statistical areas into four tiers based on population size. We then rank the top scoring destinations in each tier according to 12 measures that range from student concentration to entrepreneurial opportunities.
Our evaluation of destinations is further organized into three categories—Academic Environment,
Quality of Life, and Professional Opportunities. Each addresses the larger learning environment according to objective criteria. Research Capacity, for example, one of our measures of Academic Environment, is based on research-and-development expenditures. Arts and Leisure, in our Quality of Life section, measures the number of cultural and entertainment locations. Entrepreneurial Activity, in the Professional Opportunities section, tracks the net annual increase of business establishments.
The CDI isn’t just for students and their parents. College presidents, admission offices, and alumni can use it to promote their schools, civic planners to tout their regions, and CEOs to plan their next move. What’s more, the amenities that create great college communities also can make these destinations fine places to visit or retire.
Collegia, a regional planning organization based in Wellesley, MA (www.collegia.com), published the first College Destinations Index (CDI) in 2003. According to Todd Hoffman, Collegia’s president, location typically ranks as one of the three most important factors in choosing a college. Until the CDI, there was no way to compare the off-campus assets of different colleges. AIER took over the CDI in 2008 and made modifications. These include the most recent Census Bureau definitions of metropolitan statistical areas and new measures for Entrepreneurial Activity and Brain Gain or Drain. We favored government sources, unless none were available or if a non-government source was more comprehensive.
“An extensive study that should help in researching the college environment you will be entering. There are many other college lists, but none seem quite as thorough. AIER’s list is an objective, comprehensive list. If I was doing research in going to my first college, I would consider AIER a good source to compare schools.”