Age Distributions of Peer College Towns

UMD’s administration often compares a slew of education indicators against the university’s five peer institutions – UC Berkeley, U of Illinois, U of Michigan, U of North Carolina, and UCLA. For us, we think in terms of peer College Towns, which narrows the list slightly to Berkeley, Urbana-Champaign, Ann Arbor, and Chapel Hill (Los Angeles just doesn’t work). With some inspiration from the city’s most recent Economic Development Plan we dove into the 2000 census and pulled out the following statistics:


Not much else to say…

11 thoughts on “Age Distributions of Peer College Towns”

  1. Its interesting that no one compares the student role in these cities (or any other similarly situated college towns) with their role or lack thereof in College Park.

  2. What things do students advocate for in College Park that are not granted?

    Party permits (liberal version) or less strict standards for noise, representation on the City Council (i.e. an all student district or two), and less restrictive parking regulations come to mind. While there are other things, they often tend to require County action here.

    It would be interesting to explore college town issues where students make up about 50 percent of the population to see how these issues are addressed elsewhere.

    My experience in the National League of Cities and some research leads me to believe that in College towns where students make up a smaller fraction of the population, say 20 to 25 percent of the population, their ideas are generally dead on arrival, if they even bother to present them.

    Some research may yield an interesting master’s thesis and present an opportunity for publishable papers.

  3. The thing that jumps out to me is that CP has a much smaller pop than any of the above listed cities.

    CP ~25,000
    CH ~ 52,000
    CU ~ 110,000
    AA ~ 114,000
    Ber ~ 102,000

    So naturely the percentage of students will skew the population towards the younger side. Also, the area of the College Park is far smaller than any of these cities. This could affect the demographics in numerous ways. I think the distance that students have come to attend CP may also play a big role. Each of these flagship universities are more likely to have a student population that will not leave on the weekends. I think that some normalization of the datasets might provide a clearer picture of what this data means.

  4. I agree that it’s a simplistic analysis. Indeed, there is any number of ways to define a College Town and I’m also not much of a statistician. After finals I’m going to throw a few dozen “College Towns” into the mix and see what comes out. What this analysis does show you is that CP as a political unit is overwhelmingly students and whether because of apathy or underlying conspiracy (I lean towards the former) they are enormously underrepresented in the decisionmaking process.

  5. I think this is a great bit of information and raises all kinds of issues – especially the ones Bob has mentioned – that are worth exploring more. I look forward to seeing what comes out of David’s shakedown.

  6. Another thing that strikes me is that the graduate student demographic (late 20s, early 30s) is a spike roughly equal to (or larger) than the younger demographic in all but CP. Having more grad students living in CP will help bring additional flavor and commercial demand that we are lacking here. We need more undergraduate housing, but also grad student housing. Some of this is in the works in CP, but it is important to recognize for great college towns. Right now, many grad students live elsewhere – Takoma Park, Greenbelt, DC, Silver Spring…

  7. I wanted to add a few points that I have dragged out of my studies of this issue. The first is that the University is beginning to recognize that the lack of affordable housing options has the potential to diminish the ability of graduate students to complete their studies, but more importantly may be diminishing the appeal of UMD for potential candidates. UCLA and UC Berkeley have established a goals of guaranteed affordable housing for graduate students. (This point is further explained in a 2003 study by the UMD Urban Studies and Planning Dept on the Housing Needs of Graduate Students).
    A second point is that the housing is of greatest benefit to the University and the Town if it is directly proximate to the school. In the University’s Master Plan 2001-2020 there is the statistic that 87% of faculty, staff and students drive to campus (78% of these in sngle occupant cars). The Anderson Strickler Housing market Study of 2005 states that 70% of students in University Affiliated Housing walk to class. To me this indicates that filling the edges of the camus with dense student housing relieves the pressure on residental neighborhoods, aids the recruitment and retention of quality students and begins to address the areas traffic problems. Housing that is even 1 mile away from campus is going to generate auto traffic.

  8. Some interesting statistics here Brian. You figure there is about 35,000 students (25,000 undergrad and 10,000 grad). 8,250 undergrads live in regular on-campus(they may have parking permits but probably all walk) housing and live in Commons (1,825) (presumably these all walk) and courtyards (704) (walk or ride the bus). Roughly 5 percent of grad students (500) live in university affiliated housing (near campus but many of them might drive. These don’t even include people that live in the Knox Boxes (about 500), Frat Row, University View, and what I’ll call near-Old Town.

    The University has about 12,000 employees. So you’ve got about 47,000 people on campus everyday. I think it would be safe to say well over 30% of these people walk to campus (almost all students) based on their housing alone. While clearly housing closer is best, I’d point out that even if housing is more than a mile away the traffic hasn’t actually changed (because people are driving either way and the Unversity enrollment doesn’t really change). Also, the recent construction of the Towers in Hyattsville, while not in an ideal spot, has contributed greatly (along with University View) to a 50% increase in shuttle UM ridership over last year:

  9. 1. Are Ann Arbor and Chapel Hill college towns? If not, we could not compare percent ages between College Park and either of those towns, similar to the notion, “Los Angeles just doesn’t work.” I am unsure whether or not Berkeley and Urbana-Champaign are college towns.

    2. How woud you define a college town?

    3. College students do not necessarily reside in College Park, however they commute to and from the campus on a daily basis. They ought to be an integral part of the educational indicator and economic development for College Park.

  10. These are difficult questions to answer, but I’d say that if you compare the size of the college to the size of the town, then that is a pretty good indicator. I didn’t put an exact number on this, but if the associated school’s enrollment made up an infinitesimal % of the town’s population I didn’t include it (UCLA). I’m working on another iteration and have made a point of eliminating towns with over 110,000 people (Like Madison, Wisconsin).

    I think the graph shows that a large number of students do indeed reside in College Park. I hope to have the new graph up soon and it includes quite a few towns that are comparable in size to CP.

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