Ames edged out Iowa City in a ranking of top college towns, but both made it into the top 5.


The American Institute for Economic Research recently released its 2013/2014 College Destinations Index, which has Ames listed at No. 2 and Iowa City at No. 5.


The index ranks the 75-best metro areas and college towns for students, and breaks its rankings into four categories: the top 15 major metro areas, the top 20 mid-size metros, the top 20 small metros and the top 20 college towns. College towns are defined as having less than 250,000 residents. The index looks at research indicators to measure the academic environment, quality of life and professional opportunity.


Of note:

  • Ames had the highest student concentration of any of the 75 cities on the list.
  • Ames and Iowa City had the first and second-lowest unemployment rates among the 20 college towns, at 3.2 and 3.1 percent respectively.
  • Both also ranked in the top five of the college towns category for entrepreneurial activity, research capacity and percent of 25- to 34-year-old population with a bachelor's degree or higher.

Des Moines came in at No. 11 in the small metros category, measured as cities that have 250,000 to 1 million residents. Des Moines had the third-lowest unemployment rate in the category, and the second-highest measure of "Brain Gain," or the year-over-year ratio of population with a bachelor's degree living in the area.