Boston was recently named the best major city for college students.
While a school's academics are certainly an important factor during the college search, students should keep in mind that the location they choose to study in can often make a big impact on the college experience. For this reason, the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER) creates its annual AIER College Destinations Index, featuring the top 75 U.S. towns and cities for college students. This list is based on a variety of factors, using data from sources like the U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
This year, Boston, Massachusetts, took the number-one spot as the nation's best major metropolitan area for college students. Current and former students from schools around the city recently offered their insight on what makes Boston such a great area for bachelor's and master's degree seekers.
A College Community
Today, there are 35 colleges, universities and community colleges in Boston, creating a citywide student population of more than 152,000, the Boston Redevelopment Authority reports. This has naturally created a huge college community, where local business cater to college students and degree seekers never have a problem meeting fellow college enrollees.
"I went to a small school, but it didn't really matter, because being in Boston, you're basically part of a massive campus anyway, since there are so many other colleges and universities nearby," said Amanda Gross, a Simmons College graduate with a bachelor's degree in communications.
A Foodie's Paradise
From the endless streets of Italian restaurants in the North End to the chic cafes of the South End, Boston is filled with diverse and delicious cuisine.
"Boston's got everything from great late-night food to visiting-parent dinners," said Chelsea Bathurst, who earned a bachelor's degree in graphic design from Boston University. "Since it's a big city, there are also lots of options for dietary restrictions (gluten-free, vegan and kosher options are everywhere)."
An All-American Sports City
Boston is synonymous with sports, both for its high number of recent championships and its unwavering fans. In fact, Sporting News named Boston the second-best sports city in the country last year, falling only to Dallas-Fort Worth. For sports-loving college students, this aspect of the city is particularly appealing.
"The Celtics, Bruins, Red Sox and Patriots have all brought home a championship over the past decade, and if there is one thing Bostonians are proud of, it is their raucous attitude when it comes to anything sports-related," said Chris Markle, a Northeastern University graduate with a bachelor's degree in history and journalism. "If professional sports aren't your cup of tea, try the annual Beanpot competition in February - Harvard, Boston College, Boston University and Northeastern University all compete in a round-robin ice hockey tournament, and this is a great place to really get into the college spirit."
A Shopper's Delight
For students who want to spend their free time strolling through an endless stream of stores, Boston has plenty to offer. The city has an up-and-coming fashion scene and plenty of hip boutiques, high-fashion powerhouses and name-brand stores to satisfy degree seekers' needs.
"Boston has a number of major shopping destinations that can fit every college kid's budget," said Jill Dilibero, who is currently earning a Master of Business Administration at Simmons College. "Harvard students are lucky enough to be able to walk out of their dorms to grab a new shirt from Urban Outfitters before class, while Boston University students can pick up all their furniture at the West Elm near campus. Of course, the fashionistas have the famed Newbury Street, which has nearly every store imaginable."
An Assortment of Opportunities
Boston is home to a wide range of large and small businesses, most of which take advantage of the city's booming student population by offering internships and post-graduation job offers. Jeremy van der Heiden, who holds a bachelor's degree in English from Northeastern University, said this was one of the many things he liked about going to school in Boston.
"The city is home to some of the biggest companies in the country, while still maintaining a solid entrepreneurial and small business community," van der Heiden said. "This made the process of seeking out internships and starter jobs a bit easier, and provided more diverse options."
Anthony Denice, a current biology major at Northeastern, said he has had a similar experience in the city.
"Many employers have internships and other paid positions designed for students, so gaining income and experience as an undergraduate is relatively easy in Boston," Denice said.