Austin took first place in a study of the best college towns and cities in the United States last month.
WalletHub, a personal finance website, designated Austin as the best college town in the country, beating out 414 other cities. In addition to the overall first place ranking, Austin received second place in the list’s “social environment” category and placed 54th and 196th for “academic and economic opportunities” and “wallet friendliness,” respectively.
The study assessed the social environment of the 415 cities by analyzing metrics such as student gender balance, food trucks per capita and sports clubs per capita. The “wallet friendliness” category looked at housing costs, cost of higher education and more, while “academic and economic opportunities” evaluated metrics such as higher education quality, share of part-time jobs and unemployment rate.
For Levi Casias, radio-television-film freshman, UT’s distinctive identity makes Austin a great college town.
“When you come to Austin, just the University itself is such an icon,” Casias said, “It’s so different going outside of Austin, and whenever I think of Austin, I think of UT.”
Casias said Austin is very different from Waco, where his sister attended Baylor University.
“When you go outside (in Waco), it’s very not college,” Casias said. “But here, it’s (a) safe college, and it’s very diverse, and it’s very large.”
While the WalletHub study mostly looked at city based locations including breweries, cafés and shopping centers to evaluate the city’s social environment, Briana Cuero said Austin’s outdoor hangout spots are beneficial to student quality of life.
“A lot of students want a break from college life … and so having Zilker Park or Barton Springs or even Town Lake, which is right down the street (is) a really healthy way to get away from college itself,” Cuero, a marketing engineering sophomore, said. “That in itself is a good R & R type thing.”
Aerospace engineering junior Kristen Pallesen said she enjoys Austin’s accessibility, especially when compared to her hometown of San Antonio.
“Everything is so accessible,” Pallesen said. “It’s walkable, there’s public transportation … so if you wanted to get off campus or even if you wanted to get around campus, you can, which is really nice. Not every city is like (that). I could not take a bus around San Antonio, but I can here.”