2018 Best College Locations Methodology

The 2018 Best College Locations ranking is based on key statistics and student reviews using data from the U.S. Census. Top-ranked areas offer excellent nightlife, dining, recreational opportunities, and cultural attractions. Learn where our data comes from.

Factors Considered

Factor Description Source Weight
Student Surveys on Local Area Niche survey responses scored on a 1-5 scale regarding the quality of the local area at each school. Self-reported by Niche users 30.0%
Access to Bars A measure of both the proximity (per square mile) and the availability (per capita) of bars and similar establishments. U.S. Census 10.0%
Access to Coffee Shops A measure of both the proximity (per square mile) and the availability (per capita) of coffee shops and similar establishments. U.S. Census 10.0%
Access to Restaurants A measure of both the proximity (per square mile) and the availability (per capita) of full-service restaurants. U.S. Census 10.0%
Cost of Living Grade Niche’s Cost of Living Grade, which incorporates statistics that capture a location’s affordability. Niche 10.0%
Local Weather Grade Niche Weather grade, which incorporates statistics such as amount of sunshine, precipitation rates, as well as student surveys regarding local weather. Niche 10.0%
Percent Local Residents Age 18-24 Percent of residents in the town who are between 18 and 24 years of age. U.S. Census 10.0%
Local Crime Grade Niche’s Crime & Safety Grade, which incorporates statistics that capture a location’s general safety. Niche 5.0%
Outdoor Activities Grade Niche Outdoors Activities grade, which incorporates statistics such as access to natural parks and campgrounds. Niche 5.0%

The same methodology is used to produce the Niche Location Grade for each ranked school as well as additional 4-year colleges, community colleges, trade schools, and other 2-year programs. Statistics obtained from the U.S. Department of Education represent the most recent data available, usually from 2015–2017, as self-reported by the colleges.

For more details about how we calculate our rankings, click here. If you work for a school and would like to update your data, please claim your school.