The National Conversation

The 25 Best College Towns in America

Image of Campus

  #15 Bennington

“Tucked into the southwest corner of Vermont, Bennington offers an exceptional college experience for those who want a small-town atmosphere. The downtown is walkable, and there is a vibrant arts and culture scene. There are green spaces for hiking, biking, swimming and skiing. The Green Mountain and Finger Lakes National Forests are nearby as well. Like its community namesake, Bennington College is small and unique. The school has a strong focus on the arts but also requires all students to complete an internship to ensure they have real-world work experience prior to graduation. Bennington ranks 12th for entertainment and very highly for the percentage of adults older than age 25 who have a bachelor’s degree. The city also ranks in the top 10 percent for its median rent as compared to the median income in the area. That means it offers an affordable option for those who want to live in New England but are hoping to avoid sky-high rents.” 

To find the best college towns, we analyzed data from 170 communities with populations of fewer than 150,000 residents. At that size, cities are big enough to offer plenty of amenities but small enough that students don’t get lost in the crowd. We looked at factors that are important to college students right now—such as entertainment options and the number of young adults living in the community—as well as those things that may be important later, like the unemployment rate and median cost to rent.”  –