The American Institute of Economic Research released its annual list of the best college towns in the country this week — naming Ithaca, New York as the best destination for students.
Ithaca is home to both Cornell University and Ithaca College, and is truly a welcoming and comfortable setting for students. As a former four-year resident of the town, I could not agree more with the AIER’s findings (I graduated from Cornell last year).
Based on my own experiences, Ithaca is the perfect mixture of giving students everything they would want in a college experience and offering seemingly endless opportunities to explore a unique local culture.
Ithaca is home to two major colleges -- Cornell University and Ithaca College -- which bring more than 20,000 to the city when school is in session, almost doubling the local population.
The young average age helps reinforce the feel of Ithaca as a college-centric city, and makes it more comfortable and fun to socialize.
For many students, alcohol is a key part of college, and Ithaca makes sure you're not just shotgunning cheap beers (although students certainly do that too).
Ithaca Beer Company is an awesome local brewery, and when the weather is nice students go out and explore the wineries in the surrounding Finger Lakes region.
Ithaca is around four hours away from the New York City area, where a lot of students come from, and is about an hour away from the nearest major city.
While some students lament Ithaca's isolation, it actually serves to help foster a tighter local community.
In 2011, Ithaca took a chance on a young city official -- Svante Myrick, Cornell Class of 2009 -- by electing him mayor when he was only 24 years old.
Myrick continued to live in Collegetown -- Cornell's off-campus student area -- following his election, and has become a strong leader for both the city and its student residents.
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