Twin Cities 9th best college metro area

We're in the blue

I wonder whether it’s a sign that the major college rankings season is over when the economics nerds do their own version.

The American Institute for Economic Research, one of the oldest economic research organizations in the country, has released its annual “College Destinations Index,” which ranks the 75 best towns and cities for college students to live in.

The areas were based on 222 U.S. Census metropolitan statistical areas with at least 15,000 students. It produced rankings in four population categories: Major Metros (that’s us), Mid-Size Metros, Small Cities and College Towns.

Instead of analyzing the schools themselves, the institute looks at the cities and towns where they’re located, and how those stack up in a dozen areas:

  • Student Concentration: number of college students per 1,000 residents
  • Student Diversity: percentage of all students holding foreign passports
  • Research Capacity: academic R&D expenditures per capita
  • Degree Attainment: percent of the 25-34 year old population with college degrees
  • Cost of Living: based upon average rent for a 2-bedroom apartment
  • Arts and Leisure: number of cultural and entertainment venues per 100,000 residents
  • City Accessibility: percentage of workers over age 16 who commute on foot or by public transportation or bicycle
  • Creative Class: percentage of residents working in the arts, education, knowledge industries, science and engineering, management and other fields
  • Earning Potential: income per capita
  • Entrepreneurial Activity: net annual increase in total number of business establishments per 100,000 residents
  • Brain Gain/Drain: year-over-year ratio of college-educated population living in the area
  • Unemployment rate

No other Minnesota city placed.

Although I understand the Twin Cities’ place in the rankings, I wonder about the process. How can a hole like San Jose, which I’ve known since childhood, rank #1 in its category?