Buffalo deemed a top city for college students

Buffalo is ranked as one of the top cities throughout the United States for college students, according to the American Institute for Economic Research. The AIER recently produced the College Destinations Index for the 2013-14 school year.

The CDI takes the research and information from 229 metropolitan locations that have a student population of at least 15,000 according to a press release from the AIER. The index includes the top 75 cities based on different statistical analysis.

Each city is reviewed for “each location’s overall economic and academic environment, quality of life and employment opportunities,” according to the press release.

The cities are split up into four categories each — major, mid-size and small metros along with the small college towns. Buffalo was ranked as the forth mid-size metro college city and town in America.

Before the overall rank of the city, there are three categories in which the cities are statistically analyzed.

There are also four sub groups within those categories that determine where the city is ranked. According to the AIER website, the overall rank is the “total score of all non-weighted rankings for college towns.”

“We believe that the most important thing that students can and will do is look at the academic opportunities and get the education they need,” said Steve Cunningham, chief economist at AIER. “We’re looking for three basic things and trying to find proxy’s that capture a certain element of those.”

For academic development, Buffalo was ranked first for its student diversity, which calculated the percent of the students from colleges and universities that are non-residential. It was ranked eighth for degree attainment, which included the percentage of people between the ages of 25 and 34 who have obtained a bachelor’s degree or higher and ranked ninth for research capacity and tenth for student concentration.

“We look into the academic environment, the support system, the community,” Cunningham said, “and how it might directly serve the students involved.”

Regarding the quality of life, Buffalo ranked first for the cost of living and fifth for city accessibility, which is the percentage of people who are 16 or older and commute to work by walking, biking, or public transportation.

Buffalo was ranked tenth for arts and leisure, which analyzed the amount establishments for entertainment, recreation and arts per every 100,000 people living in the city and 17th for creative class.

Cunningham said that most students looking to go to a university hope they don’t spend all four years at the institution “locked up” on a college campus.

He said that if there’s more to do throughout the city and the community, then it enhances the college experience. The AIER team of economist’s works to find data that involves looking at all aspects of the different cities throughout the nation.

They don’t rank the colleges and universities themselves, but the areas in which they are located.

“It’s a relative ranking, we have rankings for each of these but then we rank them against each other,” Cunningham said.

The last category Buffalo was statistically analyzed for was professional opportunity. It ranked fifth for entrepreneurial activity, which is based on the 100,000-population total business net increase. It ranked seventh for “brain drain or gain,” which is the ratio of people who have attained a B.A. living in the area, and ranked 16th for earning potential.

The unemployment rate in Buffalo was ranked 17th.

The research for the 2013-14 CDI began last spring with about 500 towns and cities within the metro/micro areas throughout America, according to Cunningham.

In September, they began formulating the index, computing all of the information and began to lay all of the data out. The creation of the Index included data and research from many different sources.

“It’s quite an undertaking,” Cunningham said. “A lot of people are involved.”

The AIER has been creating the CDI for over five years, and updates it yearly to reevaluate the results.

Cunningham said that in some cases, cities may swing and change places, but communities like Buffalo are often stable. The results vary from year to year.

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