The 10 Best College Towns In Wisconsin For 2019


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Believe it or not, America has the best colleges in the world. It's been proven by data (and surveys) that the U.S. educational system is of the highest quality

It's actually not even close and Wisconsin is home to a handful of them.

While we could debate which colleges within the are the 'best,' that's not the goal of this post.

Instead, ride along with us as we determine which college towns in Wisconsin are the best.

You know, the type of places where there's energy and stimulation, but the type of place you can walk around at night. The happiest, chillest, most downright fun places where you can send your kids off to college where you won't break the bank, or worry about their well being.

Without further ado, here are the best college towns in Wisconsin for 2019:

  1. Oshkosh, WI (Photos | Homes)
  2. Stevens Point, WI (Photos | Homes)
  3. Appleton, WI (Photos | Homes)
  4. Madison, WI (Photos | Homes)
  5. Whitewater, WI (Photos | Homes)
  6. River Falls, WI (Photos | Homes)
  7. Ripon, WI (Photos | Homes)
  8. Manitowoc, WI (Photos | Homes)
  9. Menomonie, WI (Photos | Homes)
  10. Mequon, WI (Photos | Homes)

While some of these may not seem like a 'real' college town per se, when you look at the numbers, it's hard to argue against.

And for those who live in Oshkosh, Stevens Point and Appleton - we tip our hats to you and we'll schedule a tour for next week. You can see where Oshkosh ranks in terms of the best college town in America.

Finally, if you live in Watertown, WI - it's officially the worst college town in Wisconsin. Sorry, Watertown!

Read on to find out more or for more on Wisconsin check out:

How'd we figure out the best college towns in Wisconsin?

To crunch our data on Wisconsin's best college towns, we had to first decide which qualities (or rankings) make sense to use in the data, and then crunch the numbers for our rankings.

First off, we firmly decided that only cities with a 4 year college should make the cut -- so there has to be at least one college granting bachelors degrees in town.

You might be surprised to hear that there are only 23 places in Wisconsin with an institution of higher learning with that criteria.

Source of data include OpenStreetMaps, the College Scorecard, the U.S. Census, and FBI reporting data to include the following factors:

  • Students Make Up Large % of the Population
  • College-specific Factors
    • Graduation rate
    • Tuition Cost
    • Student Body Diversity
  • Town Characteristics
    • Safety
    • Affordability
    • Income and Employment Opportunities
  • Things to Do
    • Bars
    • Museums & Libraries
    • Population Density

We ranked each city across each of the criteria, with one being the best.

We rolled up the individual scores into the category and ranked them again based on the category.

Finally, we took the average rank across each category, with the city posting the lowest overall score being crowned the winner of the title "Best College Town In Wisconsin For 2019".

And it looks like Oshkosh placed Summa Cum Laude.

Oshkosh, WI
Overall SnackAbility
8
/10

Population: 66,649
% Undergrad Pop.: 13.7% (11th best)
Median Rent: $704 (7th best)
Unemployment Rate: 410.0% (14th best)
Crime Rank: 16th best
More on Oshkosh: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Oshkosh is a city in Winnebago County, Wisconsin, United States, located where the Fox River enters Lake Winnebago from the west. The population was 66,083 at the 2010 census. The city is located adjacent to and partially within the Town of Oshkosh.

Colleges: University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, Bella Academy of Cosmetology

Stevens Point, WI
Overall SnackAbility
8
/10

Population: 26,526
% Undergrad Pop.: 31.2% (6th best)
Median Rent: $675 (5th best)
Unemployment Rate: 520.0% (21st best)
Crime Rank: 13th best
More on Stevens Point: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Stevens Point is the county seat of Portage County, Wisconsin, United States. The city was incorporated in 1858.

Colleges: University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point

Appleton, WI
Overall SnackAbility
8.5
/10

Population: 73,832
% Undergrad Pop.: 1.7% (22nd best)
Median Rent: $746 (12th best)
Unemployment Rate: 340.0% (9th best)
Crime Rank: 12th best
More on Appleton: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Appleton is a city in Outagamie, Calumet, and Winnebago counties in the U.S. state of Wisconsin. One of the Fox Cities, it is situated on the Fox River, 30 miles southwest of Green Bay and 100 miles north of Milwaukee. Appleton is the county seat of Outagamie County. The population was 72,623 at the 2010 census. Of this, 60,045 were in Outagamie County, 11,088 in Calumet County, and 1,490 in Winnebago County. Appleton is the principal city of the Appleton, Wisconsin Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is included in the Appleton-Oshkosh-Neenah, Wisconsin Combined Statistical Area. The city possesses the two tallest buildings in Outagamie County, the Zuelke Building and 222 Building, at 168 and 183 feet, respectively.

Colleges: Fox Valley Technical College, Lawrence University, Gill-Tech Academy of Hair Design

Madison, WI
Overall SnackAbility
8.5
/10

Population: 248,856
% Undergrad Pop.: 23.2% (7th best)
Median Rent: $1,008 (28th best)
Unemployment Rate: 410.0% (14th best)
Crime Rank: 22nd best
More on Madison: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Madison is the capital of the U.S. state of Wisconsin and the seat of Dane County. As of July 1, 2016, Madison's estimated population of 252,551 made it the second-largest city in Wisconsin, after Milwaukee, and the 82nd-largest in the United States. The city forms the core of the United States Census Bureau's Madison Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes Dane County and neighboring Iowa, Green, and Columbia counties. The Madison Metropolitan Statistical Area's 2010 population was 568,593.

Colleges: University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison Area Technical College, University of Wisconsin Colleges

Whitewater, WI
Overall SnackAbility
6
/10

Population: 14,762
% Undergrad Pop.: 64.1% (1st best)
Median Rent: $722 (9th best)
Unemployment Rate: 860.0% (28th best)
Crime Rank: 10th best
More on Whitewater: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Whitewater is a city in Walworth and Jefferson counties in the U.S. state of Wisconsin. Located near the southern portion of the Kettle Moraine State Forest, Whitewater is the home of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. As of the 2010 census, the city's population was 14,390. Of this, 11,150 were in Walworth County, and 3,240 were in Jefferson County.

Colleges: University of Wisconsin-Whitewater

River Falls, WI
Overall SnackAbility
8.5
/10

Population: 15,256
% Undergrad Pop.: 35.9% (5th best)
Median Rent: $804 (18th best)
Unemployment Rate: 200.0% (1st best)
Crime Rank: 14th best
More on River Falls: Real Estate | Data | Photos

River Falls is a city in Pierce and St. Croix counties in the U.S. state of Wisconsin. It is adjacent to the Town of River Falls in Pierce County and the Town of Kinnickinnic in St. Croix County. River Falls is the most populous city in Pierce county. The population was 15,000 at the 2010 census, with 11,851 residing in Pierce County, and 3,149 in St. Croix County. It is part of the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area and is about 30 miles east of the center of that region.

Colleges: University of Wisconsin-River Falls

Ripon, WI
Overall SnackAbility
6
/10

Population: 7,738
% Undergrad Pop.: 11.1% (12th best)
Median Rent: $740 (10th best)
Unemployment Rate: 210.0% (2nd best)
Crime Rank: 3rd best
More on Ripon: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Ripon is a city in Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin, United States. The population was 7,733 at the 2010 census. The city is surrounded by the Town of Ripon.

Colleges: Ripon College

Manitowoc, WI
Overall SnackAbility
8
/10

Population: 32,939
% Undergrad Pop.: 2.2% (20th best)
Median Rent: $650 (1st best)
Unemployment Rate: 400.0% (12th best)
Crime Rank: 23rd best
More on Manitowoc: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Manitowoc is a city in and the county seat of Manitowoc County, Wisconsin, United States. The city is located on Lake Michigan at the mouth of the Manitowoc River. According to the 2010 census, Manitowoc had a population of 33,736, with over 50,000 residents in the surrounding communities. The city's sister city is Kamogawa, Japan.

Colleges: Silver Lake College of the Holy Family, Empire Beauty School-Manitowoc

Menomonie, WI
Overall SnackAbility
6
/10

Population: 16,222
% Undergrad Pop.: 44.6% (2nd best)
Median Rent: $712 (8th best)
Unemployment Rate: 630.0% (25th best)
Crime Rank: 18th best
More on Menomonie: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Menomonie is a city in and the county seat of Dunn County in the western part of the U.S. state of Wisconsin. The city's population was 16,264 as of the 2010 census.

Colleges: University of Wisconsin-Stout

Mequon, WI
Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility
10
/10

Population: 23,787
% Undergrad Pop.: 16.2% (9th best)
Median Rent: $1,241 (30th best)
Unemployment Rate: 250.0% (3rd best)
Crime Rank: 1st best
More on Mequon: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Mequon is a city in Ozaukee County, Wisconsin, United States. The population was 23,132 at the 2010 census.

Colleges: Concordia University-Wisconsin

There You Have It -- The Best College Towns In The

If you're looking for the best college towns in Wisconsin, you came to the right place.

These places all have great college sports programs, tons of stuff to do, and are great places to raise a family.

If you're curious, these are the worst college towns in Wisconsin, starting with the absolute worst, Watertown:

  1. Watertown
  2. Ashland
  3. Wauwatosa
  4. Kenosha
  5. Superior
  6. Eau Claire
  7. Milwaukee
  8. De Pere
  9. Waukesha
  10. Green Bay

For more reading, check out:

23 Best College Towns In Wisconsin

Rank City Population
1 Oshkosh, WI 66649
2 Stevens Point, WI 26526
3 Appleton, WI 73832
4 Madison, WI 248856
5 Whitewater, WI 14762
6 River Falls, WI 15256
7 Ripon, WI 7738
8 Manitowoc, WI 32939
9 Menomonie, WI 16222
10 Mequon, WI 23787
11 Platteville, WI 12194
12 La Crosse, WI 51928
13 Plymouth, WI 8477
14 Green Bay, WI 104796
15 Waukesha, WI 72173
16 De Pere, WI 24695
17 Milwaukee, WI 599086
18 Eau Claire, WI 67945
19 Superior, WI 26473
20 Kenosha, WI 99623
21 Wauwatosa, WI 47687
22 Ashland, WI 7997
23 Watertown, WI 23730

Best College Towns By State

Enjoy The Snack?