As high school seniors decide where to attend college, they examine degree programs and campus amenities, calculate job prospects, assess school spirit, and consider location. To help make the decision a bit easier, personal finance website WalletHub crunched the numbers on more than 400 cities across the U.S. to determine 2020’s Best & Worst College Towns & Cities in America — and declared Austin No. 1 in its class.
The report, released on December 9, examined 415 cities across the U.S. and broke them down into three categories: large city (more than 300,000 people), midsize city (125,000 to 300,000 people), and small city (less than 125,000).
Austin not only took the top spot among large cities, it also ranked first in all three categories combined.
To determine the best and worst college cities, WalletHub used 31 metrics, each assigned a different weight, in three key areas: academic and economic opportunities (50 points), wallet friendliness (25 points), and social environment (25 points).
With an overall score of 66.49, Austin's best grade, unsurprisingly, came in social environment, where it ranked No. 2. (With its beaches and perfect weather, only San Diego fared better.) Austin scored a rather middling 196 in wallet friendliness, but it ranked a solid 54th in academic and economic opportunities.
Joining Austin on the combined list are Orlando (No. 2); Scottsdale, Arizona (No. 3); Tampa (No. 4); Ann Arbor, Michigan (No. 5); Seattle (No. 6); San Diego (No. 7); Las Vegas (No.8); Salt Lake City (No. 9); and Provo, Utah (No. 10).
Elsewhere in Texas, Houston is No. 30 among all cities and No. 18 among big cities. H-Town earned an overall score of 56.89. Like Austin, Houston's highest marks came in social environment, where it earned No. 27. Houston ranked 72nd in wallet friendliness and a surprisingly low 254th in academic and economic opportunities.
Dallas, meanwhile, ranked 55th overall and No. 23 among big cities with an overall score of 54.89. Big D's highest grade also came in social environment (46), followed by academic and economic opportunities (186) and wallet friendliness (236). Neighboring Fort Worth earned the 86th spot overall, 36th among big cities. Fort Worth earned an overall score of 53.4 while clenching the 125th spot in social environment, 126th in academic and economic opportunities, and 256th in wallet friendliness.
San Antonio was the next major Texas metro to make the list. The Alamo City earned a score of 54.37, securing it the 65th spot overall and the 29th spot among big cities. It earned high scores in social environment (24) and wallet friendliness (83) but fell hard in the academic and economic opportunities category (343).
So where is the worst college town? That unpleasant distinction goes to Germantown, Maryland. The Washington, D.C. suburb is joined by Kendall, Florida (No. 414); Shreveport, Louisiana (No. 413); Bridgeport, Connecticut (No. 412); and New Rochelle, New York (No. 411).