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Why college location is more important than ever

Many parents and college-bound students face a costly college dilemma: Is that dream school worth the money or will a cheaper college lead to equal success?

Location, location, location is not just a major factor in buying a home. It should take a top role in picking a college according to the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER) 2012-2013 “AIER College Destinations Index” (AIER CDI).

The AIER CDI found the top 75 best college towns and cities that provide more than a good college to attend. These places offer the best locations to live and find a job after graduation.

According to AIER's website: “At a time when approximately half of current college graduates are unemployed or underemployed, the pros and cons of a particular college destination should be an important factor in making a college selection,” said Julie Zhu, the AIER research analyst who oversaw compilation of the Index.

Academic and cultural factors

To find the best college towns, the AIER CDI along with the paper typers analyzed data from several sources including the Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, National Science Foundation, and Small Business Administration.

Evaluating the information, researchers found "a snapshot of each community’s overall academic and cultural environment, quality of life and employment opportunities in the area," according to the Index.

The winning cities showed top performance in a dozen areas including degree attainment, cost of living, commutation on foot, bicycle or by public transportation, earning potential, unemployment rate, and number of cultural/entertainment venues. Weather and climate were not factors.

College and beyond

If the goal of parents and the college bound is to get the maximum return on a higher education investment, then finding the best place to earn a degree has to include its location.AIER's study found:

According to Steven Cunningham, AIER Director of Research and Education, “The characteristics that make up a great college destination often make a location ideal for business, retirement and tourism. A top AIER College Destinations Index ranking should be just as important to the town or city as it is to the schools located there and the families and students attending or considering them.”

Students can look beyond four to six years to earn a degree for a great place to live and work. Parents can do some future planning to include collegecations (college visits plus family vacay) and relocation for retirement!

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Tags: college

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