The American Institute for Economic Research declared Madison the second-best small city in the United States for college students on Monday, moving up four spots from last year.
According to this year’s College Destinations Index, Madison was ranked just under Ann Arbor, Mich., Boulder, Colo., Gainesville, Fla. and Durham, N.C. The index also includes the top 20 locations among major metros, mid-size metros and college towns.
The AIER conducts its research by analyzing statistics covering 12 different criteria, including student concentration, diversity, cost of living and earning potential in over 527 Metropolitan areas. The institute then uses the information to rank the areas one through 20, according to an AIER statement.
The research conducted by AIER is unlike other rankings in that it takes into account information provided by more unbiased parties, such as the Census Bureau, the statement said.
Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, and Ald. Scott Resnick, District 8, both said they were not shocked that Madison now sits at No. 2 on the list.
“I am not surprised that Madison made the top of the list,” Verveer said. “Oftentimes it is hard to keep track of the lists and rankings University of Wisconsin-Madison and Madison makes. Overall, this speaks to how great of a place Madison really is.”
Resnick said he would not be surprised if Madison was ranked No. 1 in the future.
UW Communications director Dennis Chaptman said he believes the CDI’s comprehensive list represents Madison respectfully.
He said any individual who has had the opportunity to live in Madison for any length of time as a student or permanent resident is aware of the exceptional quality of life.
“We’re also excited to see the campus recognized for its extraordinary academic environment and for the strength of the professional opportunities and the economic climate here,” Chaptman said.
Verveer said he could not pinpoint specific reasons as to why Madison jumped up on the CDI list. Rather, he said he thinks the jump can be attributed to an increased awareness of the positive attributes the city has to offer, specifically the economic situation.
“Touching on the economy, despite the recession and very tough budget cuts the government, state and UW face, we still have always had one of the lowest unemployment rates,” he said.
Resnick said he finds it difficult to dissect ratings because some pieces of criteria are arbitrary. Yet, the higher ranking does show that many initiatives that Madison abides by, particularly on a geographic layout, are working, he added.
As for what Madison should do in the future, Verveer said the city should keep moving forward on the path it is on.
Resnick and Verveer agreed the lively environment, school spirit, thriving downtown area and opportunity for employment make Madison a great place for a college community and a post-graduate city environment.