Life in the USA
Education in America
Colleges and Universities
The phrase “college town” cannot help but elicit a fairly strong image
in the mind of most listeners or readers. The phrase most likely brings forth bucolic images
of ivy-covered brick, grassy common areas, courtyards, and impressive buildings. Certainly an
individual's image of college and a college town is greatly influenced by their own college
experience. It is hard to imagine a UCLA graduate having the same autumn in New England
image as a Dartmouth graduate, for instance.
Certainly, in some very large cities, such as Boston, higher
education makes up a significant part of the economy. But does this make Boston a college
town. Most people would probably not think of Boston as simply a college town - to do so
would ignore the very rich and varied character of a city the size of Boston. What then are
the characteristics of a “college town”?
It would seem that the most fundamental, overriding, characteristic of a college town is
that one or more colleges and universities have a dominant impact on all aspects of life
within the community. This impact would pervade all aspects of municipal life,
- Demographic impact - In a College town, a large percentage of the municipality's
population would be students attending one or more colleges and universities, as well as the
the academic and support staffs of those institutions. This population would be highly
educated, transient in nature (there for the school year and the term of their education), and
young (individuals in their late teens through mid-twenties).
- Economic impact - In a college town, a significant portion of the municipality's economic
activity is either directly or indirectly related to the colleges and universities. Students, faculty
and staff, and the institutions themselves are all among the largest consumers of goods and
services. Many businesses cater almost entirely to college students.
- Social impact - The presence of one or more institutions of higher learning can provide a
relatively small community with many arts, cultural, and educational opportunities that are
typically only found in larger municipalities. The many offerings of the colleges and
universities, as well as business that cater to those colleges and universities, provide a large
portion of a communities options for arts and entertainment. This extends to major sporting
attractions. It is hard to imagine any resident of South
that does not have at least a passing knowledge of the University of Notre Dame's football
team, the “Fighting Irish”.
- Political impact - In addition to having more to do than is typical of other towns and
small cities, college towns tend to have a youth and vibrancy the colors political life as well.
College towns tend to be politically more liberal and tend to be more inclined to embrace
new trends, and ideas.
All of this translates into a quality of life that typically makes a college town a very
attractive place to live, work, and raise a family. “College towns are... the ideal mix of low
[real estate] prices, culture, fun and high-tech growth” (“Live Rich in College Towns”, Rich
Karlgaard, Forbes.com 11.28.05). College towns offer many of the amenities of much
larger municipalities, with out the high costs, congestion, and problems of large communities.
They provide a very appealing blend of small-town charm with big-town fun.
Some examples of “typical” college towns would include:
Massachusetts - home to Amherst College, Hampshire College, and the University of
California - home to the University of California, Berkeley
Montana - home to Montana State University
- College Station,
Texas - home to Texas A&M University
Missouri - home to the University of Missouri, Stephens College, and Columbia
- Eugene, Oregon -
home to the University of Oregon
Arkansas - home to the University of Arkansas
- Fort Collins,
Colorado - home to Colorado State University
- Hanover, New
Hampshire - home to Dartmouth College
College, Pennsylvania - home to Penn State
- Tempe, Arizona -
home to Arizona State University
About the CityTownInfo.com
CityTownInfo.com is a
quick reference web site that provides statistics and indexes on thousands of cities and towns
across the US, as well as articles, comments from local residents, and more.
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