Springfield is large enough, however, not to have the feel of college town similar to Columbia, Missouri. There’s nothing wrong with that. But there’s something terribly wrong with our ranking in College Destination Index published by the American Institute of Economic Research. Springfield doesn’t rate; it’s nowhere to be found.
Here’s what AIER says about its rankings:
The College Destinations Index (CDI) describes the broader learning environments of the top 75 cities and towns for students and pulls them together here in an easy-to-understand map and table.
It isn’t just about professors and classes. Conversations in coffee houses, performances in concert halls, and opportunities for corporate internships also contribute to education. That’s why the American Institute for Economic Research assesses a location’s broader learning environment in our College Destinations Index.
The index subdivides more than 360 metropolitan statistical areas into four tiers based on population size. We then rank the top scoring destinations in each tier according to 12 measures that range from student concentration to entrepreneurial opportunities.
Our evaluation of destinations is further organized into three categories—Academic Environment, Quality of Life, and Professional Opportunities. Each addresses the larger learning environment according to objective criteria. Research Capacity, for example, one of our measures of Academic Environment, is based on research-and-development expenditures. Arts and Leisure, in our Quality of Life section, measures the number of cultural and entertainment locations. Entrepreneurial Activity, in the Professional Opportunities section, tracks the net annual increase of business establishments.
The CDI isn’t just for students and their parents. College presidents, admission offices, and alumni can use it to promote their schools, civic planners to tout their regions, and CEOs to plan their next move. What’s more, the amenities that create great college communities also can make these destinations fine places to visit or retire.
So having a goodly number of fine institutions is not enough. To make this list a community also has to have “quality of life” and “professional opportunities.”
Is it important to show up in the top 75? Before assuming that it’s OK to rank lower, I’d urge you to take a look the AIER list and map – available as a .pdf; ordering the download is free. Here’s a peek:
All those blobs of color you see there represent places that attract the creative class that Richard Florida has told us is an indicator of economic and cultural vibrancy. Where would you place the 76th blob of color?
I’d certainly like to put it right there in the southwest corner of Missouri. How do we make that happen? Florida offers one answer: get dense.
Remember those kids at the Mudhouse?:
I swear I’m not making this up. The following is a snippet of conversation I heard at the Mudshouse. The interlocutors were high school kids:
Kid 1: “There’s just too much sprawl here.”
Kid 2: “Yeah, not enough density.”
Kid 3: “It doesn’t matter. We’re not going to live here anyway.”
How do we make our urban core more dense and, thus, have a chance at making Springfield the kind of place where these kids want to live?
Yet it seems that what we do here is keep pushing outward. More subdivisions. More roads. More congestion.
Where are the visionary people who will develop our urban core brownfields and, perhaps, begin putting us on that map.
Our Urban Challenge Series: