Columbia, Missouri, is ranked No. 8 overall in the American Institute for Economic Research’s list of the top 20 college towns in the U.S., part of AIER’s 2014-2015 College Destinations Index.
“Columbia is the fourth most populous urban area in Missouri, and has a relatively low cost of living and a high level of entrepreneurial activity,” AIER said in the report. “Stephens College, University of Missouri, and Columbia College make Columbia a center of education, culture, and athletic competition.”
The report also cited Columbia’s reputation for progressive politics, as well as the city’s high emphasis on education and appealing public art.
“The ‘college experience’ is about more than simply attending a top-notch university,” AIER said in the report. “The city or town where the school is located also is important. The people students meet, the places they go, and the jobs they may hold are essential supplements to formal education.”
Columbia also ranked third best for cost of housing, fourth best for entrepreneurial activity and fifth best for the percentage of the population with a college degree.
AIER’s 2014-2015 College Destinations Index measures the informal learning environment and offers an objective look at measures covering 12 key criteria in four categories that powerfully impact the student experience: student life, culture, economic health and opportunity.