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After visiting Virginia Tech in the spring, we are really looking for more great college towns.  There are some great lists on the internet, but I wanted some personal opinions on what places might fit us.

 

I say "us" because in three years when 16yo ds graduates from homeschool, we plan on moving from the icky suburbs to a nice little college town.  Dh and I have both taught at universities in the past (and been involved in research), so we'd like to go back to that life.  With both of us working, we should be able to swing it. 

 

We'd really like somewhere we could ride a bike or take public transportation to campus.  Blacksburg was pretty ideal, though a bit "the middle of nowhere" for me.  Dh and ds love the outdoors.  Ds's current interest is computer science, but he's an incredible writer, so I'd like a more balanced school than our alma mater, Georgia Tech.

 

I'm sick of search engines and big fat books.  Does anyone have suggestions of awesome college towns that I should check out?

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Well, two that I know well are:

 

Ithaca, NY (Cornell, Ithaca College)http://cornellsun.com/section/news/content/2013/03/11/ithaca-ranked-no-1-college-town-second-time

Rochester, NY (RIT, UofR, St John Fisher, Nazareth, MCC, etc...) (not exactly a little college town, but living in a town like rush Henrietta (near RIT) or Mendon (beautiful outdoorsiness) might make an extremely short commute worth it.)

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If you want to bike and do outdoors stuff:

 

Boulder, CO.

Santa Barbara, CA. (terribly expensive.)

Eugene, OR.

 

 

 

 

Dh and I have both taught at universities in the past (and been involved in research), so we'd like to go back to that life.

 

Wouldn't that require you to go where the job happens to be, as opposed to choosing a place? In my experience, going into reserach and teaching means giving up complete control over choice of town, state, or, in some cases, country.

Or am I misunderstanding and you are talking about *retirement*?

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After visiting Virginia Tech in the spring, we are really looking for more great college towns.  There are some great lists on the internet, but I wanted some personal opinions on what places might fit us.

 

I say "us" because in three years when 16yo ds graduates from homeschool, we plan on moving from the icky suburbs to a nice little college town.  Dh and I have both taught at universities in the past (and been involved in research), so we'd like to go back to that life.  With both of us working, we should be able to swing it. 

 

We'd really like somewhere we could ride a bike or take public transportation to campus.  Blacksburg was pretty ideal, though a bit "the middle of nowhere" for me.  Dh and ds love the outdoors.  Ds's current interest is computer science, but he's an incredible writer, so I'd like a more balanced school than our alma mater, Georgia Tech.

 

I'm sick of search engines and big fat books.  Does anyone have suggestions of awesome college towns that I should check out?

 

I think you'll need to give us more info.  Would you be following your ds to whatever school chooses?  If you want to keep his options open to any one of many possible majors, that pretty much means going to a traditional large university that offers many majors.

 

There's lots of big-state-U's in medium-sized cities that dominate the area.  These have a completely different feel than leafy LACs in tiny towns.  But your "middle of nowhere" tag really throws me off.  I don't think you are going to find any typical college towns a quick jump to a cosmopolitan metropolis.

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Boulder.

If you like biking and outdoor stuff, no better place.

 

Ds has been looking at Boulder.  My brother is thinking about moving there and that sparked his interest.  I forgot that I told him I'd check into how homeschool friendly UC-Boulder is.  I've always thought it was a bigger city, so it wasn't really on my radar.

 

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A couple of thoughts:

 

Charlottesville, VA / University of Virginia..terrific college town & similar to Blacksburg in outdoor opportuities nearby. I'd move there in a heartbeat.

 

Madison, WI/ U Wisconsin...great atmosphere. Lots of biking & sailing when I lived there; friendly town. I lived out in the far reaches of town & biked in or rode the bus to the university most days.

 

Pittsburgh, PA...OK, not a college town; but LOTS of colleges (including U Pitt & CMU) in the Oakland/ Squirrel Hill area. Maybe there would be a job for both of you? AWESOME place to go to grad school :D ...on the inexpensive side of things. Lots of outdoorsy stuff in the Allegheny Mtns not far away, along with all the big city benefits you might want, including good public transit. Used to ride the bus or my bike all the time (my car stayed parked in the garage mostly). Nostalgic here, huh? :p

 

Joules, did you & your husband teach at Georgia Tech? just curious, I was on the faculty there a while back, & it's where I met my husband. :001_smile:

 

 

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Iowa City, Iowa (University of Iowa)

 It is listed in the top 10 literary cities and made the list recently of retirement towns.

Even with it being a college town it is a great family place too.

I agree!  This is my alma mater.  We spent 8 years in IC while my dh did his residency and fellowship.  At one time it had the most degreed citizens.  It was the only place we've been where the grocery clerk probably had a higher level of education than I had :)  Small town atmosphere, lots of activities, pretty buildings.  It has become much more family friendly over the past 20 years.  Excellent health care, diverse population, and a great university.

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Amherst, MA was voted top college town by MSN, and US News places it in its top 10 college towns. The town, and the area, are really quite pretty. And there are 5 colleges/universities all within shouting distance of each other, the largest being UMass Amherst.

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Wouldn't that require you to go where the job happens to be, as opposed to choosing a place? In my experience, going into reserach and teaching means giving up complete control over choice of town, state, or, in some cases, country.

Or am I misunderstanding and you are talking about *retirement*?

 

 

Somewhere in between.  It would be *retirement* from the rat race.  With both of us working, we're hoping for a combination of adjunct, consulting, etc.  Dh would likely work remote with his current company for a while until we work out the details.  The goal is to replace his single income between us, so life can slow down a bit.  We'd like to choose a location instead of the other way around for a change.

 

We may not be able to make this work, but we've got three years to plan it out, so I'm trying to be optimistic.

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I think you'll need to give us more info.  Would you be following your ds to whatever school chooses?  If you want to keep his options open to any one of many possible majors, that pretty much means going to a traditional large university that offers many majors.

 

There's lots of big-state-U's in medium-sized cities that dominate the area.  These have a completely different feel than leafy LACs in tiny towns.  But your "middle of nowhere" tag really throws me off.  I don't think you are going to find any typical college towns a quick jump to a cosmopolitan metropolis.

 

Sorry about confusion, yes, the guys will actually be very happy in the middle of nowhere.  It's the one advantage of the suburbs that I'll miss, but I'll live. (BTW, I want to move to SF or Berkeley which is insanely impossible!)

 

I'm not sure who is following whom. Ds is just trying to orchestrate us all going the same place.  It makes sense because it would only take us a year to establish in-state status if he goes to a public college.  Plus he is hoping to live at home.

 

I don't think we have to keep *all* majors open.  He's still a STEM kid.  I'm just pushing a big more diversity, so he can have some decent English classes :)

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Davis, CA. It's a rural-leaning suburb, 20 minutes from Sacramento and an hour and a half from San Francisco, but there's farmland just outside of town. It's bike capitol of the US and has an excellent, university-run public transportation system.

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Well, that's pretty funny, because as soon as I saw the title of your post, my very first thought was "Blacksburg."

 

Skimming through posts, Charlottesville and Boulder are both very nice, very different from each other, that's for sure.  It's pretty hard to beat the beauty of Boulder, too.

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Ds has been looking at Boulder.  My brother is thinking about moving there and that sparked his interest.  I forgot that I told him I'd check into how homeschool friendly UC-Boulder is.  I've always thought it was a bigger city, so it wasn't really on my radar.

 

 

To me, Boulder feels like a suburb of Denver, and it has a lot of traffic, as small as it is there at the foot of the mountain.  My oldest son loved Golden (probably mostly for engineering).  My youngest thinks even Golden feels like a suburb of Denver, and he loves the feel of Fort Collins, which is more of a college "town" to him.

 

These things are on our minds, too.

Julie

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Columbus or Dublin, Ohio..home to the Ohio State University. We lived there for 6 years and loved it! Very multi-racial, multi cultural and low crime rate. The winters are brutal, but Fall and Spring make up for it.

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Asheville NC is a great college town, but the focus of UNC Asheville is more Liberal Arts than STEM.

It is only slightly less in the middle of nowhere than Blacksburg, though.

 

Newark, Delaware is a college town.  University of Delaware has a big engineering school - not familiar with the computer science.

Baltimore, Philly and NYC are within easy reach.

 

 

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Well, that's pretty funny, because as soon as I saw the title of your post, my very first thought was "Blacksburg."

 

Skimming through posts, Charlottesville and Boulder are both very nice, very different from each other, that's for sure.  It's pretty hard to beat the beauty of Boulder, too.

 

Me too!  I have yet to see a college town quite as nice as Blacksburg.  I think it's more remote location makes it a better college town as there are fewer other distractions.

 

If you want research ops in a larger city, I'll agree with Rochester.  Whenever we go there to see middle son it always leaves me wistful - there are tons of things going on there (at least in fields that interest me).  With the climate change that seems to be happening recently winters haven't been as bad there either and it's not as high priced and crowded as many cities.

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Asheville NC is a great college town, but the focus of UNC Asheville is more Liberal Arts than STEM.

It is only slightly less in the middle of nowhere than Blacksburg, though.

 

 

 

I'm not sure I consider Asheville, NC a college town, a tourist town, yes, but college town? No. 

 

To me a college town is a town is a town where the main industry is the college. I guess looking at this list, this would eliminate Rochester, NY  too, although I don't know if Kodak still exists or not. 

 

I live in a town with five colleges, but I wouldn't consider our town a college town just because they are here. 

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Well, that's pretty funny, because as soon as I saw the title of your post, my very first thought was "Blacksburg."

We're in Blacksburg this week visiting our two oldest and it's just lovely, even though the campus has changed a lot since dh and I went to Tech. I love Blacksburg and its surroundings: the outdoor activities, the gorgeous countryside, Tech's Hokie stone campus, and the friendly people. It's a great place!
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To me a college town is a town is a town where the main industry is the college. I guess looking at this list, this would eliminate Rochester, NY  too, although I don't know if Kodak still exists or not. 

 

I live in a town with five colleges, but I wouldn't consider our town a college town just because they are here. 

I agree it depends upon the definition one is choosing.  Blacksburg easily is a college town, though there is certainly other industry in Blacksburg and Christiansburg... but the town loves the college and much of it revolves around the college.  The college, in turn, is large enough to bring in many perks from speakers to shows to research options.

 

Rochester is a larger city, but it's still a college "city" IMO.  The University of Rochester is the largest employer...

 

"With 20,340 full-time equivalent employees (as of December 31, 2011), the University of Rochester – which has been the largest employer in the Rochester region since 2006 – is the 7th largest employer and the largest institution of higher education and academic medical center in the state.

The report finds that the University is responsible for supporting approximately 47,000 job (direct and spillover) in the Rochester Metropolitan Statistical Area, the equivalent of 9 percent of the region's workforce."

 

http://www.rochester.edu/news/show.php?id=4089

 

and it brings in oodles of perks from speakers to shows to research options.  Then add what the other colleges in the area bring in (a google search says 18 in the region total, but some are small and some are 2 year schools - 9 were four year schools with enrollment greater than 1500, RIT (not UR) being the largest for enrollment. 

 

Rochester is definitely not as small as Blacksburg - therefore, perhaps not a college town, but it sure ranks up there for me as a college city, esp when compared to Boston, DC, NY, Pittsburgh, etc where there are also several colleges, but far more "other" things too and the colleges just "another thing."   It all depends upon what the OP is looking for.

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Good to know Creekland, my dad was there in the 50s, but I always got the sense it was a company town more than a college town. 

 

To the OP, in a college town stores, restaurants, and just life in general will be focused on college students. This means you'll be able to get great food for a fairly low cost. In a tourist town like Asheville that won't be the case, restaurants are selling a once in a year experience not a everyday experience. It makes a difference. (It's why l love to visit Asheville.) A company town will have a still different focus. 

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I'm partial to

 

Ann Arbor, MI

Amherst/Northampton, MA

Charlottesville, VA

Lexington, VA

Williamsburg, VA

Annapolis, MD

 

But there are so many...it really depends on what you want out of the community.  For me college towns are all about good bookstores, interesting activities, good football (or the sport of your choice), good food and a place for the locals to live that doesn't involve living next to a noisy frat house or year 'round student rentals.  There are also typically a multitude of active groups of a variety of faiths and somewhere most folks would fit in.

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I found a great resource of college towns/cities that I thought I'd share:

https://www.aier.org/article/7841-aier-names-75-best-college-towns-and-cities-2012-2013

(You can get the full report as a pdf at the end of the article, but you do have to give an e-mail address.)

They rank on some things of interest to me, like transportation, educated population, the arts, etc.

 

Ds and I spent over 5 hours yesterday looking at colleges online and in books.  I feel like my brain is going to explode. He's started searching Zillow for these towns, which has added the affordability/availability of property aspect to the search. We're planning a college trip in October and I'm having trouble narrowing down where we want to start looking (so I can buy plane tickets!)

 

I've given ds the whole list of cities that everyone has shared so he's trying to narrow things down for me this weekend. 

 

 

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College Station, Texas/Aggieland

 

University shuttle buses, some public transportation, and its a great college town that has grown more rapidly in the past 15 years because so many graduates get jobs/start businesses in order to stay in the area. Also home to some of the most polite, salt-of-the-earth people you'll ever meet.

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Iowa City, Iowa (University of Iowa)

 It is listed in the top 10 literary cities and made the list recently of retirement towns.

Even with it being a college town it is a great family place too.

 

As well as being declared today, as a matter of fact, the number one party school in the US!!  

 

Woohoo!  Party on!   

buds.gif

 

 

 

 

;)

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How about Princeton, NJ? In addition to Princeton University, there is also Rider University in nearby Lawrenceville.

 

Another option is Madison, NJ, which is home to three different colleges: The College of Saint Elizabeth, Fairleigh Dickinson University, and Drew University.

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