Going to school in a legitimate city is a completely different experience than going in a college town. Whereas college-town bars sell you $5 liquor pitchers, in most big cities you'll be lucky to find a bar with $5 water. In college towns you can immerse yourself in the collegiate experience; in cities you can immerse yourself in culture adults worked on for more than a semester. In college towns rents are reasonable. In some cities they're more than your parents' mortgage. You get the idea.
That's not to say one is any better than the other, but if you are one who decided to matriculate in a major metro, some cities offer decidedly better experiences than others. So we took a look at the major US cities, graded them in five categories, and found the 15 best for college.
Having term-paper flashbacks with that subhead? Good. We took a look at five different categories and assigned each city a grade from "A" to "F," with pluses and minuses factored in. The grades were based on staffers' firsthand knowledge plus hard data from the experts.
Transportation: Determined by how easy a city was to live in without a car, based on SmartAsset.com's survey of public transportation and WalkScore.com's ranking of walkability
Affordability: Based on average price of a one-bedroom apartment
Scene: Based on the cost of going out in each city, its relative options for college students, and loosely on WalletHub's ranking of the most fun cities in America. Since we all know "funnest" isn't a word.
Future prospects: Based on Glassdoor.com and WalletHub rankings of best cities for jobs. If you're actually trying to live in the city where you went to school.
Culture: Based on number of cultural attractions in a city (museums, ballet, theatrical performances, etc.) and Business Insider’s ranking of best cities for culture
And as a tiebreaker, we looked at how many average days of sunshine each city has. Because what college kid wouldn't rather spend their time studying in the sunshine?