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St. Augustine and Panama City — the nation’s top college towns?

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Tallahassee failed to make a ranking of the top 50 college towns but Panama City did?

And St. Augustine was rank No. 1?


A web site called posted the ranking this week.

I’m immediately attracted to any ranking of college towns.

After working as a news reporter in non-college town Montgomery, Ala., for four years, moving to Gainesville in 1988 was rejuvenating.

And then I spent 10 months in Boulder, Colo., in 1997 on an environmental journalism fellowship at the University of Colorado. Boulder ranked No. 42.

Now I have nothing against Panama City or St. Augustine. Actually, they both hold a special place in my heart.

St. Augustine is a great historic town, a wonderful place to visit.

But a college town? To me, the 2,800 students at Flagler don’t make it one.

And Panama City. Ah, I learned to love the Gulf Coast there. My wife and I went there for our honeymoon back before bungee rides took off.

But a college town? I don’t think that Gulf Coast State College rates a ranking at No. 31, ahead of Gainesville at No. 37.

College Ranker doesn’t say what went into creating its ranking.

Almost every city has a college or university these days — even Orlando. But that doesn’t make it a college town above all else.

To me, if a town doesn’t have a football stadium and lots of eclectic bars and restaurants around a stately campus, then it isn’t really a college town.

And I’m not sure that a state capital rates as a college town either because serving as the seat of state government is the city’s larger role.

After a quick web search I find that has a better ranking.

Sorry, no Panama City or St. Augustine on that list.

But there is Tallahassee at no. 18, Gainesville at no. 11 and Boulder at no. 1.

Sure you can quibble with that ranking, too. But these are real college towns — except perhaps for that one that’s a state capital.

Bruce Ritchie (@bruceritchie) covers environment, energy and growth management in Tallahassee. 

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