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Home > About BNE > Press Room > 2010 Archive > September > Buffalo Named a Top Collegiate Destination

Buffalo Named a Top Collegiate Destination

Ranks ninth among midsize regions

September 9, 2010

Buffalo is one of the best college towns in America, according to a new national ranking released Wednesday.

The region ranks No. 9 among midsize metro areas when it comes to best places for college students to live, the American Institute for Economic Research said.

That's up from No. 13 a year ago.

"It's not a surprise to us," said Steven J. Harvey, executive director of Western New York College Connection, a consortium of local colleges.

While many may not think of the Buffalo region as a typical college town, Western New York has 21 institutions of higher learning, boasting some 105,000 college students and 32,000 employees, Harvey said.

"Higher education is doing very well," Harvey said, "and I think they're an economic engine for Western New York that a lot of people underestimate."

As opposed to ranking individual colleges, the not-for-profit institute based in Massachusetts uses a College Destinations Index that takes a closer look at where the schools are located.

"There are a lot of rankings of colleges," said Kelly Lynch, a senior fellow at the institute, "but your college experience and the education you get extend beyond the borders of campus.

"Other things matter -- cultural attractions, the economy of the area, the prospect of getting a job," Lynch said. "So we wanted to come up with an index that would take those into account."

The institute looked at 222 metro areas in the U.S. with student populations of 15,000 or more, and broke them down into four tiers -- major metros, midsize metros, smaller cities and college towns.

Researchers then considered 12 criteria, including student concentration, student diversity, arts and leisure, degree attainment, cost of living, earning potential and unemployment rate.

The Buffalo region scored particularly well for student diversity, thanks to the University at Buffalo, which has a high concentration of international students.

"City accessibility here is good, and the city also gets a comparatively high score for arts and leisure offerings," the institute wrote about the Buffalo region.

Not surprisingly, though, the region scored poorly when it came to the economy.

"An unfavorable brain drain score suggests that many of the young adults in the area eventually leave," the institute wrote. "Scores for earning potential, entrepreneurial activity, and cost of living are also relatively low."

Among midsize regions, Buffalo came in just behind Rochester, which was No. 8, and just ahead of No. 10, Nashville, Tenn.

San Jose ranked No. 1 among midsize regions, followed by Austin, Texas; Raleigh, N.C.; Hartford, Conn.; Portland, Ore.; Pittsburgh; and Salt Lake City, Utah.

San Francisco, meanwhile, ranks No. 1 among major metro regions when it comes to best places for college students to live.

Boulder, Colo., was No. 1 for small cities and Ithaca was named the best college town.

The complete report can be found at


Top college towns

Buffalo ranks as one of the best college towns in America among midsize metro areas with populations between 1 million to 2.5 million people:

1-San Jose, Calif.

2-Austin, Texas

3-Raleigh, N.C.

4-Hartford, Conn.

5-Portland, Ore.


7-Salt Lake City



10 Nashville, Tenn.

11 Sacramento, Calif.

12 Richmond, Va.

13 Columbus, Ohio

14 Tucson, Ariz.

15 Charlotte, N.C.

16 Providence, R.I.

17 Virginia Beach, Va.

18 Orlando, Fla.

19 Milwaukee, Wis.

20 Oklahoma City, Okla.

Source: American Institute for Economic Research