Finding the Right College Location for Yourself

Size of City College locations typically fall into one of four types: big city (e.g. New York), medium city (e.g. Cleveland), small city (e.g. Amherst, Mass), or small town (e.g. Hanover, NH). You can find quality colleges in every city across the United States, no matter what the size of the town is. For example, Columbia University in New York is an Ivy League college and one of the world's premier institutions, while Dartmouth College—another Ivy League school—is in a town of just over 11,000.

Each different size has its advantages and disadvantages. A metropolis is never short of amenities, offering all kinds of goods and services at any time of the day or night. On the other hand, having so much at your fingertips can be a distraction, as there's always a bar, an art gallery, a sporting event or a movie to attend instead of going to class and focusing on your education.

Smaller towns can remedy this, as they typically have a fraction of the amenities that large cities do. Because everything costs money and small towns don't have the populations to feed in the dollars, you won't have multiplexes with the latest blockbuster films or a Big Four sporting event happening every night. These lack of events can leave students with no other choice but to focus on school, although the lack of extracurriculars can frustrate others.

Cost of Living Another key thing you have to factor into where you'll be studying is how much income you'll need to support yourself. Big cities have a much higher cost of living than small towns, as they need plenty of dollars coming in to support public transportation, infrastructure, buildings and other maintenance. Small towns don't have nearly as much, so your cost of living will decrease: cheaper rent and groceries, little or no money for public transportation, and not as much infrastructure that's taxed for maintenance.

Type of Program The third factor to take into consideration when choosing a college to study at is what your program. If you're passionate about marine biology, a college on the coast is a must. But if you're planning on studying something like math—a flexible choice that can be studied anywhere—you have greater freedom in choosing the town. However, some college programs are rooted in different geographical locations even if the nature of it can be studied anywhere. For example, Silicon Valley is a hotbed for information technology, and might be a better choice than staying in the Midwest. Likewise, engineering seems to be centered on the West Coast, with the exception of MIT in the northeast.