What are the best college towns in the country?

Ask 20 people and you’ll get 20 different answers with multiple top 10s.

However, Livability.com decided it would take on the impossible for 2015, and the website detailed how it came to the 10 best college towns:

How did we pick the Top 10 College Towns? We started with the data. Our editors analyzed data from the Census, Esri and other sources to find cities with a high concentration of schools, and a highly-educated population. We looked at cities that have a high population of 25 to 29-year-olds as an indicator of the towns’ ability to retain graduates who decided it’s a cool enough place to stay after graduation. We looked for towns that were diverse and places where education is a dominant employer. Some bonus points were given to towns with Division I athletics because like it or not, strong sports programs help define college towns. We also considered the availability of rental housing and the affordability of that housing.

Truly, many could argue several of the SEC’s 14 college towns should be included in the ranking, but only three of them made it for 2015, according to the website: Columbia (MO), Gainesville (FL) and Columbia (SC).

1. Manhattan, KS (Kansas State University)
2. Durham, NC (NC Central University)
3. Columbia, MO (University of Missouri)
4. Berkley, CA (University of California – Berkeley)
5. Denton, TX (University of North Texas, Texas Woman’s University)
6. Cambridge, MA (Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
7. Gainesville, FL (University of Florida)
8. Columbia, SC (University of South Carolina)
9. Lincoln, NE (University of Nebraska)
10. Bowling Green, KY (Western Kentucky University)

The website says the following about the SEC’s three college towns:

Columbia, MO

A strong entrepreneurial scene coupled with an artistic vibe and a politically progressive undercurrent makes living in Columbia, MO highly appealing to both college students and recent graduates. Columbia’s high percentage of college grads, strong economy, affordable housing and deep ties to education make it one of the Top 10 Best College Towns in the country. Older, long-time residents find that Columbia’s college set adds many benefits to the city, from providing a steady stream of customers to local shops and restaurants to exciting sports events and musical performances. The more than 37,300 students who attend the three colleges that surround downtown Columbia give the town a youthful energy that keeps things interesting.

Gainesville, FL

Living in Gainesville puts you close to world-class fishing and snorkeling sites as well as places to canoe, kayak and scuba dive. City and regional parks like Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park or Morningside Nature Center provide opportunities to hike and explore unique natural areas. Students and residents often gather in Gainesville’s downtown, the symbolic heart of the city which features many local shops, restaurants and cultural institutions such as the Hippodrome State Theater and the Bo Diddley Community Plaza. Several breweries such as First Magnitude, Tall Paul’s and Swamp Head deliver local craft beer to those old enough to enjoy. A strong art scene in Gainesville keeps students and residents inspired and entertained.

Columbia, SC

While it’s a capital city and home to Fort Jackson, the Army’s largest training post, Columbia, SC can best be described as a college town. The city’s past, present and future are deeply tied to a collection of colleges and universities, including the state’s flagship school, the University of South Carolina. Long-time residents here experience a vibrant social scene, evolving arts atmosphere and stable economy thanks in large part to a steady stream of college students, many of whom decide to stay after graduation. In other words, life in Columbia is more fun and interesting thanks to the college set. As is the case with other cities on the Top 10 Best College Towns, Columbia residents are more educated, diverse and socially engaged than most places.

What other college towns should have been ranked in the top 10?