The annual College Destination Index by the American Institute for Economic Research ranked Gainesville the fifth small metro area in the country for 2013-2014.
Seventy-five cities were organized into four categories: small metros, mid-sized metros, major metros and college towns.
The ranking, which is based on 12 criteria, focuses on the academic aspects of the area and the “quality of life,” said Steven Cunningham, chief economist for the company. It also accounts for student diversity, entrepreneurial activity, and arts and leisure.
“It’s a terrible thing to go to a town where you don’t want to step off the campus,” Cunningham said. “The idea is that students should and do pick a college based on academics and, certainly that puts Gainesville as a good place to go.”
Gainesville has been on the index since the ranking’s inception more than five years ago. Last year, it was ranked fourth in its category, but this year the student diversity has increased significantly, Cunningham, said.
Rubab Islam, an 18-year-old UF microbiology freshman and Gainesville native, said the city is well-deserving of its rank.
“There’s Gator football, but then we also have a pretty active theater life and all sorts of multicultural events,” she said. “There’s something here for everyone.”
A version of this story ran on page 9 on 11/26/2013 under the headline "City fifth best small metro"