Oxford in Top 5 on list of 400 best small college cities

The Red Brick Express bus drives along High Street in Oxford Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

caption arrowCaption
The Red Brick Express bus drives along High Street in Oxford Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Rankings based on 30 key indicators of academic, social and economic growth potential

College towns around the country were analyzed using a variety of topics — with the result that Oxford, home to Miami University, was third in the nation in the small cities division.

Oxford was also fifth, overall, among more than 400 cities and towns.

WalletHub released its report on 2022′s Best and Worst College Towns and Cities in America recently. The report was a follow-up to its annual College and University Rankings. Its aim was to determine the towns and cities that provide better living conditions even in the current difficult times.

“To help college-bound high school seniors determine their future home for the next several years, WalletHub compared more than 400 U.S. cities — also grouped by city size — based on 30 key indicators of academic, social and economic growth potential. The data set ranges from the cost of living to the quality of higher education to the crime rate,” WalletHub explained in a press release.

Calling Oxford the “quintessential college town,” Mayor Bill Snavely said the relationship between the city and Miami University students is a good one.

“I think we have a wonderful community. Overall, our residents get along pretty well with students. There are a lot of reasons for students to come here — the social services — it’s a great community,” he said, adding that he thinks the No. 3 ranking is low. “I’d put Oxford as the top college town.”

For simplicity, WalletHub used the term “cities” to refer to both cities and towns. Cities were grouped as large, midsize and small for the report, but then all the cities in the study were combined into one overall listing.

Oxford was listed third in the small college city category behind Ann Arbor, Michigan and Provo, Utah.

Orlando, Florida was ranked at the top of the midsize city listing and Austin, Texas topped the large college city listing.

“We’re happy to get a good ranking. It just reinforces what we already know about Oxford,” City Manager Doug Elliott said. “We have a great university and a great community. This just emphasizes those points.”

In that overall listing, Oxford finished fifth with a 59.35 score, while the top overall community — Austin — tallied a score of 63.6.

Among the categories WalletHub graded, Oxford earned a first place in social environment and third in wallet friendliness.

In the most students per capita category Oxford tied with five other communities for first place.

Some of the other areas in which cities were graded included academic and economic opportunities, lowest cost of living for young people, highest share of rental units, lowest cost of education, highest share of part-time jobs, lowest brain drain and highest quality of higher education.

In order to determine the best college towns and cities in America, WalletHub examined 415 cities of varying sizes across three key dimensions: Wallet friendliness, social environment and academic and economic opportunities.

“We evaluated those three key dimensions using 30 relevant metrics, which are listed with their corresponding weights. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with 100 representing the most favorable conditions for college students,” WalletHub’s press release explained. “Finally, we determined each town and city’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate its overall score and used the resulting scores to rank-order our sample.”

The large college city category included Columbus at No. 8 and Cincinnati at No. 10. The mid-size city category was headed by two Florida cities, Orlando and Gainesville. In the small city grouping, in fourth place behind Oxford was West Lafayette, Ind.

Mayor Snavely noted the Columbus and Cincinnati rankings.

“At the heart of all that — Michigan, Ohio State and Cincinnati — is Oxford, so that’s good,” he said.

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