As the school year comes to a close, seniors across the world will be packing their duffle bags and suitcases and heading off to the next four-year chapter of their lives. Juniors are in the peak of the college search; crossing the country (and sometimes the world) to look at different elite universities in thousands of cities. Although most students will be judging the school on the food, residential situation and academics, the city that a college is situated in may be more important than one would think.
Many students will stay in their college’s city after graduation, so the percentage of job recruiters and overall prosperity of the town is important. Affordability and prestige of the universities in a particular city also play into the general value of a university town. Besides, college life isn’t just on campus: there have to be restaurants, parks, sights and other factors to create a memorable, four-year experience away from home.
Multiple websites have already compiled lists of the best student cities, like QS Top Universities (www.topuniversities.com), so I have used these sources to compile my own rankings. Listed below are the top 10 cities for students during and after college:
1. Paris, France
Though it sounds cliché, Paris, France, ranks as the top city for students on both the Huffington Post and QS Best Student Cities. The city of lights has 17 QS ranked universities, along with a rich culture of art, cuisine and history. Although Paris is known for its high cost of living, tuition for international students can cost around $38,800. Universities provide generous scholarships and grants to both domestic and international students.
The city is filled with students from the numerous universities and people in their late teens and early 20s from around the world. Employer activity, which dictates the demand for graduates by international and national recruiters, is especially high. The favorable quality of living also makes Paris the top city for students in the world. Universities to consider in Paris would be École Normale Superieure, École Polytechnique ParisTech and Université Pierre et Marie Curie.
2. London, England
London, England, has 18 QS ranked universities and colleges, including two listed in the top ten institutions in the world. Diversity within colleges is high, as well. Like Paris, job recruiters pay special attention to graduates of London schools. London has a rich culture and history that can be seen in the many museums and monuments. The city also has a vibrant nightlife with numerous clubs. However, London ranks lower in affordability and quality of living. All In London recommends biking around the city, as transportation in London can be pretty pricey. However, student discounts are available for the Tube and buses. Universities to consider in London would be University College London, Imperial College London and King’s College London.
3. Boston, MA
Since it is home to roughly 58 institutions of higher education, Boston boasts a population of some 250,000 students. Because every city on this list besides Boston is abroad, this city is a fantastic place for students that want to stay closer to home. Employer activity in Boston schools is also very high, second only to London. MIT and Harvard University rank as the QS top one and two schools in the world, respectively. Besides a large college and university system, Boston also has many world-class museums, like the Museum of Fine Arts and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Boston and its surrounding cities blend a downtown, urban layout and suburbia to create a balance that isn’t as crazy as a big city or as quiet as the burbs.
4. Vienna, Austria
Though ranked fifteenth on the best student cities list on www.topuniversities.com, Vienna ranks first on the aforementioned site’s best student cities for quality of living list. It also ranks fourth on the Huffington Post’s top 10 student cities, as well as first on Mercer’s top five cities for quality of living survey. Tuition in Vienna is one of the lowest on this list for international students, averaging $1,000. Besides a rich history in music, art and theatre, Vienna boasts the top two universities in Austria and a diverse international student population from around the globe. To glimpse an image of Vienna, one might watch films such as The Illusionist and Amadeus. Universities to look for in Vienna would be Universität Wien and Technische Universität Wien.
Rising nine places on the QS Best Student Cities list since 2013, Singapore is an up-and-coming hot spot for college students. With a 42% foreign population and high employer activity, Singapore is a great city for international students. The city’s top university, the National University of Singapore, is ranked 24th in the world on QS. Quality of living in Singapore is extremely high (ninth on the aforementioned site’s top 10 quality of living in student cities list), due to its low levels of crime and unemployment. Dense jungles, creating a balance between city and nature, also surround the concrete jungle of Singapore. Another good reason to go to Singapore? The official language is English, although Mandarin, Malay and Tamil are widely used throughout the city-state. Universities to look for in Singapore would be the National University of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University and the Singapore Management University.
6. Sydney, Australia
Tied for second for quality of living on www.topuniversities.com, Sydney, Australia, offers a picturesque skyline of the city’s famed opera house, along with a lively beach scene and a vibrant cuisine. Also, if you are interested in wildlife, Australia boasts a unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, since most of its flora and fauna don’t grow anywhere else in the world. Sports are at the forefront of Australian culture, as they boast internationally acclaimed rugby, soccer and cricket teams. Sydney also has five QS ranked schools and a diverse population not only with Australians, but foreigners as well. Tuition is much lower than most U.S. schools, averaging around $27,500. Like Singapore and London, learning a new language is not necessary to study in Australia. Universities to look for in Sydney would be University of Sydney, University of New South Wales and Macquarie University.
7. Melbourne, Australia
Also presiding in Australia, Melbourne ranks almost identically to Sydney, however the quality of living is slightly lower than its neighbor, but higher than either Paris or London. The University of Melbourne is also ranked 31st in the world on QS. Like Sydney, Melbourne lies by the Pacific Ocean and has beaches, wharfs, boardwalks and nightlife. The Ninety Mile Beach also runs through the city. A mix of foreign and domestic students and citizens makes Melbourne diverse. Because of the international population, the variety of cuisine is large and delicious. Like the Bay Area, a multitude of restaurants can be found on a single block, each one with a different style of food and country of origin. Universities to look for would be La Trobe University, Monash University and RMIT University.
8. Zurich, Switzerland
Zurich, like Singapore, offers a high quality of living, accompanied by low crime rates. The city is ranked number two in the top five most affordable student cities on www.topuniversities.com and has low tuition rates, averaging around $1,000. A top science, mathematics and engineering school, ETH Zurich is ranked 12th best university in the world on QS. Zurich is also the richest city in Europe, making the streets immaculately clean and safe. Zurich is also close by a wealth of beautiful scenery, lakes and the stunning Swiss Alps. Universities to look for in Zurich would be the University of Zurich, Zurich University of Teacher Education and Zurich University of the Arts.
9. Montréal, Québec
The only city in the Eastern half of North America besides Boston, Montréal offers a uniquely European vibe due to its large French population. Though many universities there are taught in English, it is still a good idea to enter Montréal with a basic knowledge of the “language of love.” The city is home to many international students, as well as a multilingual population. Famous cultural events, like the Montréal International Festival of Jazz and the comedy festival Just For Laughs, take place in this great city. Montréal’s cuisine (check out Beauty’s Diner) is delicious and multinational. A large Jewish population makes the city famous for their bagels. On the education front, Montréal’s McGill University ranks 21st in the QS World University Rankings and offers a tuition fee of roughly $14,000. Universities to look for would be McGill, Université de Montréal and Concordia University.
10. Munich, Germany
Last on this list is Munich, Germany, which offers a high quality of living as well as affordability. Tuition can cost only $660 a semester. Munich also has two QS Top 100 ranked universities. Of course, it would be ridiculous not to mention Oktoberfest, the annual celebration of beer brewing. The ubiquity of German cuisine and different kinds of sausage, like bratwurst, is a highlight the city, as well as its famed Christmas markets. The Bavarian countryside also borders Munich, making a weekend getaway in the cards if you were to study abroad there. Historically, Munich is home to the fabulous King Ludwig’s palaces and general royal fanfare, which make an excellent tourist stop. Universities to look for in Munich would be Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Technical University of Munich and Munich University of Applied Sciences.