Redefining the American College Town

Richard Florida takes the end of summer, and impending awakening of campuses across the country, as an opportunity to explore which of America's metro areas have the largest higher education concentrations.
August 27, 2012, 12pm PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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When looking at the metro areas with the largest share of the adult population enrolled in college or graduate school, the list reads like "a veritable who's-who of college towns," with Ames, Iowa; Ithaca, New York; and State College, Pennsylvania leading the pack.  "While these metros each have a large share of college students, taken together they are home to a surprisingly small number of the nation's student population [just 3.5% of the nation's total]," notes Florida. 

Things get more interesting when looking at the metro areas with the highest total number of college students. According to Florida, "Although we tend not to think of them this way, America's largest metros are also its largest college towns."  

"Two metros are home to more than one million college students - greater New York City with 1.3 million and greater Los Angeles with nearly 1.1 million." Among the surprising entrants in the top ten are Dallas-Fort Worth and Miami, "the nation's seventh and eighth largest college towns respectively, with roughly 380,000 students each."

"These figures show that our perceptions of college towns - small main streets near liberal-arts schools with sprawling, ivy-covered grounds - are misnomers," writes Florida. "In fact, the norm of U.S. college life is more filled with concrete sidewalks, taxi cabs, and late-night diners."

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Published on Monday, August 27, 2012 in The Atlantic Cities
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