Best Cities for Universities: Does Location Matter?

When thinking about which college you’d like to go to, the location is not to be overlooked. Location can mean a handful of things—from a college’s surrounding village, to the positioning of its campus in relation to the village, to the type of landscape it’s in. Here we’ll discuss a few things to consider when choosing the location of a college, with tips on some of the best cities for universities.

best cities for universities

Urban, Suburban, or Rural?

The most important, and most obvious thing to consider is whether you’d prefer an urban, suburban, or rural campus. Colleges located in suburban and rural towns tend to have smaller student bodies, and possibly (though not always) smaller class sizes. Because there are fewer students on campus, these schools also tend to offer a smaller variety of class options. On the other hand, colleges located in big cities tend to be much larger, host larger student bodies and offer a wider array of courses. The downside of this is that class sizes tend to be much larger, so it’s easier to feel like a little fish in a big sea. There’s no right or wrong answer here. It will all depend on your priorities, both in terms of comfort and education. 

While any college can prepare students to thrive, urban colleges have one serious advantage: networking. Cities have more job and internship opportunities, as well as broader alumni networks. The pitfall of this is that it’s easier to feel like you’ve been lost in the mix, whereas at smaller colleges, the communities tend to be so tight-knit that every member is integral. That said, growing an expansive network can be an incredibly rewarding challenge that will continue to pay off as you continue through life, so don’t let that scare you away from choosing a college in the city.

Best Cities for Universities

When it comes to location, you should also consider how far away from home you’re willing to travel. Most of the best cities for universities are actually abroad. According to Qs rankings, the Best Student Cities of 2019 were:

  1. London
  2. Tokyo
  3. Melbourne
  4. Munich
  5. Berlin
  6. Montreal
  7. Paris
  8. Zurich
  9. Sydney
  10. Hong Kong

If you live in the US and that list made you gulp because you were hoping to stay close to home, fear not. There are still some amazing college cities in the US. According to Qs rankings, the Best US Student Cities of 2019 were:

  1. Boston
  2. New York
  3. Los Angeles
  4. San Francisco
  5. Chicago
  6. Atlanta
  7. Philadelphia
  8. Washington, DC
  9. Pittsburgh
  10. San Diego

What’s great about this list is that it contains a diverse variety of cities—Pittsburgh, DC, and New York may all be cities, for example, but they each have a very distinct culture. When it comes to determining what kind of city is best for you, it’s worth considering transportation. Most have public transportation, but with varying availability and cost, which you should factor in to your overall college expenses. If you prioritize walkability, a city like Los Angeles, which is heavily reliant on cars, is not your best bet. But if you prioritize sunshine and rain-free days, Los Angeles is definitely the move for you—which brings me to my next point: climate. As silly as it may sound, before settling on a college you should consider if certain weather patterns will benefit you.

best cities for universities

There are also some personal preferences to consider—factors like a city’s cultural diversity, arts scene, and even just the general attitude—so I recommend you do a little digging into the colleges that interest you. Pretend you’re going on a weeklong vacation and do some research. Did you find some activities and places that looked interesting to you? If yes, amazing! You’ve found yourself a contender. But if you struggled, that’s ok too—it just means it’s time to explore some new locations. You’re sure to find some place you love. After all, the best cities for universities are, well, everywhere! 

About the Author

Cassidy A.

Cassidy A.

Cassidy A. is an experienced English tutor at Gooroo, a tutoring membership that matches students to tutors perfect for them based on their unique learning needs. Gooroo offers Math, English, SAT, Coding, Spanish tutoring, and more.