A brief analysis of College Park’s age distribution the other week revealed that UMD has easily the youngest college town of it’s peer schools. This brought about a deeper question: what exactly is a “College Town”? This question produces a vague answer – a place where a “college or university and the cultures it creates exert a dominant influence over the character of the community.” Using this definition we decided to eliminate large cities and state capitals with universities in this analysis.
One commenter pointed out in our last post that CP’s population is miniscule (25,000) compared to Chapel Hill (52,000), Urbana-Champaigne (110,000), Ann Arbor (114,000), and Berkeley (102,000). Basically, it’s clear that you can place college towns on a continuum whereby a university can be an increasingly less important player in the community (either because of the large size of the town or small size of the college).
This time we compared CP to 19 other “college towns” and came up with the chart you see above. These towns range in population from 17,000 to 114,000 but still average about twice (50,000) College Park’s population. Not only did we find that College Park’s population has an unusually high percentage of undergraduate aged people (very roughly we’ll say its about 45% undergrad), but we had great difficulty finding another major university (and similar sized, discrete political unit/a.k.a. town) tucked into a major metro area. Apparently other states placed their land-grant universities a little further off the beaten path than Maryland did.
We do like a point PG County Councilmen Eric Olson made on our first iteration of this: virtually every other town on the chart has a second spike around the graduate student age range. College Park just can’t hold on to grad students.
>>See Our Excel Sheet: College Town Age Comparison