The benefits of higher education for cities

Higher education institutions are valuable commodities for their cities. Since the very beginning of American higher education, cities have fought to have colleges and universities in their communities. The reasons for this are obvious– at least to some– as institutions bring a wealth of advantages and benefits to the areas where they are located. In today’s post, I want to share an interview that I did with WalletHub regarding the role of higher education, cities, and quality of life.

Photo credit: visitphilly.com

In deciding which university to attend, how important is the surround city/town?

Prospective students often consider the local community when evaluating the possibility of attending a particular university. While prospective students often think about the possibilities for social engagement outside of class, I suggest students and families consider the ways that cities can support the student’s education. For example, here at SMU, we are located in Dallas which has a thriving business community and arts scene. Our business students are able to easily intern with nearby companies and our music majors can work with local theaters, operas, and associated groups. An SMU education is richer and better prepares students for life after college because of the advantages of being in Dallas.

What are the benefits of living in a college city/town for non-students?

Just as department stores serve as anchor within a mall, a college or university serves as an anchor institution for a city. Higher education institutions serve as a focal point for increasing the education level of the local workforce, home for the arts and culture, and as a source of employment. Faculty, staff and students provide a strong consumer and support base for local businesses, parks and nonprofits.

How can local authorities make their cities/towns more appealing to both new students and potential residents?

Local authorities, businesses, and higher education institutions should work together to strengthen civic indicators from educational outcomes, reduced crime rates, and more accessible public transportation. Affordable, high quality off-campus housing is a concern for students as well as residents. Universities and city leaders need to work in partnership to ensure safe, affordable and accessible housing options are available.