The American Institute for Economic Research (AIER) releases it College Destination Index (CDI) each year. This index goes beyond standard college ratings like cost, academics, and athletic programming. It also analyses the areas in which colleges are located along with academic environment and quality of life.
When you begin to decide on what colleges you will apply to, only half your job is done if you have only researched the college itself. You should also be considering where you will be living for the next four-plus years. The CDI can help you do just that.
The CDI uses twelve criteria to look at metropolitan college locations:
• The number of students per 1,000 residents
• Student diversity
• Research capacity for the community
• The percent of the population that has college degrees
• Cost of living (especially the cost of 2 bedroom apartments)
• The number of cultural and entertainment venues
• The ease of commuting
• The percent of residents employed in higher-end jobs like the arts, the sciences, engineering, and knowledge industry jobs
• Earning potentials per capita
• The yearly net increase of new businesses,
• The year-to-year ratio of college degree residents who settle in the area versus those who move away
• The unemployment rate
This criteria does not come from the colleges that are self-reporting to their own advantage but from neutral data like that of the Census Bureau and from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Although the CDI is free at the AIER website, they also offer a companion guide for 10 dollars. The guide profiles the top ten locations and identifies the top 40 destinations.
When you attend college, the classroom and campus are certainly important, but you should also consider what’s beyond the college classroom. Where you live, what you do, the contacts you can make, the possibility of jobs, the availability of transportation, the cost of living, all make important differences for your college years and possibly beyond.
Check out all your options and opportunities when deciding where to apply to college.