University City

Houston stacks up surprisingly high among the best college cities in America

Houston stacks up surprisingly high among best college cities in U.S.

Places-Unique-University of Houston-students
Houston claims a top spot among best college cities in the U.S. Courtesy of University of Houston

Houston is known for a lot of things — big oil, big museums, big hair — but we've never been known as one of the best big-city college locations in the nation — until now.

On the heels of the University of Houston's invitation to a New Year's Six college bowl game — The Peach Bowl in Atlanta on December 31 against Florida State — the Bayou City has been named the fourth best large college city in the nation, ranking only behind Pittsburgh, Atlanta and Austin in WalletHub's rankings.

The financial website ranked cities based on which offer the best combination of academic, social and economic opportunities for students. The large city designation is for metropolitan areas over 300,000.

In particular, Houston scored well in the "opportunities" category, which includes earning potential, job growth and entrepreneurial activity and satisfactory in "wallet wellness," housing costs, adjusted cost of living for young people, cost of higher education and average cost of pizza and burgers. The Bayou City, did not come in as well on "youth-oriented activities," ranking No. 186 of 326 locations.

WalletHub also released an overall list of best college towns, regardless of size. Houston, which is home to such higher education institutions at Rice University, the University of Houston, University of St. Thomas, Houston Baptist University, Texas Southern University and numerous medical center institutions, came in at No. 15, ahead of such cities as Athens (the University of Georgia), Baton Rouge (LSU), Tempe (Arizona State University), and Tuscaloosa (the University of Alabama).

In the overall rankings, Austin snagged the No. 8 spot, up from No. 13 last year. College Station, home to Texas A&M University, beat out Austin at No. 2; the title of best college town was bestowed on Ann Arbor, home to the University of Michigan.

To see the full rankings for cities of all sizes, head over to WalletHub.