Did you know the image of the American college town has been redefined from the bucolic New England village with tree-lined quads and ivy-covered neo-Gothic buildings to vibrant cities of “eds” and “meds?”
So says Jeffrey J. Selingo, author of There Is Life After College.
Today, in every one of the 20 largest U.S. cities, a college, university or medical center is among the top 10 employers in town. You won’t find those sorts of stats at Colby, Ramapo or Oberlin.
That’s because cutting-edge colleges have re(de?)signed the urban education experience and are running rings around their smaller, rural peers.
A survey called the College Destinations Index ranks the top schools in four ways:
- Impact of off-college student experience
- Economic health of the surrounding community
- Cultural advantages offered within walking distance of campus
- Employment opportunities
Boston, San Jose, Boulder and Ithaca came out on top.
Colleges and universities in these four areas in particular (Shout out: Philadelphia, San Francisco and Washington, DC, scored equally well) have had the foresight to do two things:
- They’ve fully integrated with the surrounding community (you won’t see Harvard or Yale-type brick walks separating, say, Drexel from its neighboring Philadelphia neighborhoods).
- They’re located where the strategic jobs of the future will be in greatest demand.
Boston, for example, plays home to countless hospitals, medical device manufacturers, cyber security think tanks and advanced engineering companies (to name just a few). These fields are what Northeastern University President Joseph Aoun calls, “robot-proof professions” and areas where students with a passion for careers in such disciplines should be studying.
Across the country, USC is another world-class example of an urban school that’s connected with the surrounding community and now is a vibrant part of LaLa Land (as well as a great place to pursue a career in media, entertainment and the arts).
There are countless other examples, but the big message here is to think twice before enrolling in a small, isolated liberal arts school (a la Iona, Drew or Haverford). And think twice before declaring a major: incredibly, 65 percent of the jobs that will exist in 10 years have yet to be invented.
So, do your homework, identify your passion, match it with an urban university that will provide the richest cultural experience and maybe, just maybe, you’ll not only be able to pay off those dreaded college loans a whole lot sooner, you might actually one day earn more money than your parents.