Top cities for college students

The Penn State campus. The university aims to create what it is calling the "world's premier academic institute" on natural gas.

Some cities provide better college experiences than others.

For the high school seniors who will be selecting their colleges over the next few weeks, a university’s location can be a key factor. The American Institute for Economic Research has compiled an index of the best college cities and towns, based on factors that include the cost of living, cultural venues, entrepreneurial activity, research capacity, student diversity and unemployment rates.

Here are the lists of top 10 college destinations among major metro areas (which includes Philly) and college towns (which includes State College). Check out the institute’s website for the full lists, plus rankings of mid-size and small metro areas.

Major metros
1. Boston
2. Washington, D.C.
3. New York City
4. San Francisco
5. Baltimore
6. Minneapolis-St. Paul
7. Seattle
8. Philadelphia
9. Houston
10. Dallas-Fort Worth 

College towns
1. Ithaca, N.Y.
2. Ames, Iowa
3. State College, Pa.
4. Iowa City, Iowa
5. Corvallis, Ore.
6. Champaign-Urbana, Ill.
7. Lafayette, Ind.
8. Lawrence, Kan.
9. Morgantown, W.Va.
10. Columbia, Mo.