Best Places to Live

2010 10 Best College Towns

Great college rivalries are the stuff of legends – Army vs. Navy, Alabama vs. Auburn, Harvard vs. Yale. Many of the most famous clashes extend far beyond sports into the world of academia, graduation rates, job placement and even party-ability. 

Now is throwing down the gauntlet by ranking our Top 10 College Towns: Great Cities for School and Life After Graduation.

College is about more than getting a degree; it's about establishing a life. That's why this list isn't a ranking of colleges, but rather a ranking of great cities that are home to some of the nation's best colleges and universities. These cities are cultural hubs, artistic centers, intellectual meccas, and economic drivers offering students and residents some of the best places to live, study, play and launch a career in America.

Check out our most recent Top 10 College Towns list here.

Ranking Criteria
Low unemployment rate
Percentage of 21- to 34-year-olds
Restaurants per capita
Median income
Median housing costs
  • 10

    Springfield, IL

    Population: 117,061
    Photo: University of Illinois Springfield

    University of Illinois in Springfield, IL, packs a lot of action into a small town, and the state's capital even made one of our Most Affordable Cities in Illinois. Eighty-five student organizations and various student-led initiatives like Late Night Stars, an event that occurs three times a semester and revolves around a particular theme, help students make the most of the small-town atmosphere. When students wander into the surrounding Springfield, they'll likely be found milling through White Oaks Mall, the largest enclosed shopping area in central Illinois, or taking part in Springfield's surprisingly lively music scene. Local bands often rock the 30-story Hilton Springfield and popular nightclubs such as Buster's, Norb Andy's, Marly's Pub and Trading Post.