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The latest news on Ranking from Business Insider

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    The next time you're drinking with a beer geek, order a strong ale.

    Stanford University computer science post-doc Julian McAuley and assistant professor Jure Leskovec released a paper earlier this year outlining how our tastes change as we consume more products and gain more expertise.

    They developed a model to help them separate the "expert" users from the "beginners" on a review website. Briefly, it takes into account the number of reviews a user has written, and how the user's ratings have evolved compared to the rest of the "expert" community (those who have written more than 50 reviews).

    They then tested it on beer-rating website RateBeer, which has over three million beer reviews.

    RateBeer experts vs novices beer preference

    The figure above shows the relationship between user experience and beer preference. McAuley and Leskovec broke down the beers into lagers, mild ales, and strong ales, and then calculated each beer's individual ranking by experience level.

    The x-axis shows the average rating of products on the site (out of 5 stars), while the y-axis shows the difference between expert and novice ratings.

    According to their study, while beginners and experts have similar top beers, experts tend to have stronger opinions than novice users. They explain in the study:

    While a lager such as Bud Light is disliked by everybody, it is most disliked by experts; one of the most popular beers in the entire corpus, Firestone XV, is liked by everybody, but is most liked by experts.

    They also found that more-experienced users gave higher ratings to almost all strong ales, illustrating that these types of beer are more of an acquired taste than traditional lagers.

    SEE ALSO: Beer Experts Say These Are The 20 Best Beers In The World

    Join the conversation about this story »


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    Residents of a certain famously picturesque New England state recently got some heartwarming news about themselves. “Vermonters Love Pets,”USA Today proclaimed earlier this year, above a write-up of the American Veterinary Medical Association’s ranking of pet-ownership rates by state. What a generous and loving people Vermonters must be, to open up their homes to more furry friends, per capita, than the people of any other state. Can these really be the same folks whom The Chronicle of Philanthropy ranked 48th in the nation in charitable giving?

    The vast range of communities contained within the United States is one of our greatest assets, but it is also responsible for some of our silliest conclusions about ourselves. A scan of a given day’s headlines confirms that there’s nothing quite so irresistible as a juicy ranking, and for good reason. Who doesn’t want to know how their neighbors stack up against the rest of the country? Trouble is, comparing things like consumer habits among states that have tremendous differences in income, geographic footprint, natural resources, and—perhaps most fundamental—ratio of urban to rural populations is often a waste of time.

    Washington, D.C., is the classic example. The Web site PornHub.com made headlines this year when it released online-pornography-viewing rates by state, placing D.C. at the very top of the list. At least the alleged perverts living in our nation’s capital display more refined taste in other departments: the District also ranks first in wine consumption. “DC ranks #1 in being the subject of stupid ranking articles,” the urban-planning activist David Alpert tweeted shortly after the PornHub list came out. Fighting for statehood may be a passion for Washingtonians, but with 100 percent of D.C.’s roughly 630,000 residents living in an urban area, being ranked alongside the 50 states quickly loses its appeal—you almost always come out looking like the country’s chief basket case.

    Of course D.C. watches more online porn and drinks more wine than the states. It’s a city—and compared with states, which include rural populations, cities have greater access to high-speed Internet, as well as higher incomes. Which makes it that much easier to pour yourself a glass of Pinot and discreetly call up the latest Joanna Angel video on your iPad. (For the record, city dwellers do not appear to be more sex-obsessed than people in the sticks—not according to yet another state ranking. The mail-order sex-toy company Adam & Eve reports that its best customers live in states with largely rural populations.)

    Similar logic can be applied to states with relatively low urban-to-rural ratios, like pet-loving Vermont. More than 60 percent of Vermont’s population lives in rural areas; only one state, Maine, is more rural. That the average household has more room, and probably more use, for animals suddenly seems unsurprising. (As for the state’s low level of philanthropy? One possible explanation: charitable donations tend to correlate with , and Vermont ranks last in church attendance. Vermonters are still generous, though—they rank 10th in hours spent volunteering, and first in nonprofits per capita.)

    This isn’t to say that all state rankings are worthless—it’s perfectly reasonable to compare states on, say, per capita education spending (as this magazine did just last year), or days of sunshine per year. But when it comes to tracking consumer behavior, it’s most logical to compare big cities with big cities, small cities with small cities, and otherwise economically and geographically similar regions with one another. So the next time you’re feeling smug after reading about how your state is so much better at life than all the others, ask yourself this: Does my state have more or fewer urban areas than those on the other end of the list? Odds are good that well-paid, wine-swilling porn lovers may be skewing the results.

    States Mail-Ordering the Most Per Capita From Sex-Toy Vendor Adam & Eve:

    1. Wyoming

    2. Alaska

    3. North Dakota

    4. Montana

    5. Vermont

    Percentage of Population Living in a Rural Area or Small City:

    Wyoming: 75.5%

    Alaska: 55.5%

    North Dakota: 60%

    Montana: 73.5%

    Vermont: 82.6%

    States With the Lowest Pet-Ownership Rates:

    1. District of Columbia

    2. Massachusetts

    3. New York

    4. New Jersey

    5. Utah

    Percentage of Population Living in an Urban Area:

    District of Columbia: 100%

    Massachusetts: 90.3%

    New York: 82.7%

    New Jersey: 92.2%

    Utah: 81.2%

    Join the conversation about this story »


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    Bowdoin College Students LobsterBowdoin College — which traditionally sees its graduating seniors off with a lobster bake — has the best food of any college in the country, according to the Daily Meal.

    For the second year, the Daily Meal released its list of the "Best Colleges for Food in America," ranking colleges' food on healthiness, sustainability, service, nutritional education, and the "X Factor"— something unique that the school does to differentiate themselves.

    Some things that may have helped schools rank on the list include bringing in local food, running educational events, or having an on-campus hibachi restaurant.

    You can check out the full list here, but these are the top 20 colleges where it pays to invest in a meal plan.

    #20 Stanford University gets students involved by hiring dining ambassadors who encourage wellness, sustainability, and healthy eating.



    #19 Princeton University just implemented a 'Lunch-to-Go' program, where students can order bagged lunches to be picked up wherever on campus.



    #18 Columbia University has completely eliminated trans fat from their food, following the model set by surrounding New York City.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    wharton

    What’s wrong with Wharton?

    That was the highly provocative headline on a Wall Street Journal story published Friday (Sept. 27). The article suggested that the University of Pennsylvania’s business school has fallen behind rivals in recent years. The Journal cited a 12% drop in MBA applications over the past four years, a market shift away from Wharton’s strength in finance to technology and entrepreneurship, and a years-long decline in the rankings in concluding that “something at Wharton doesn’t add up.”

    Several MBA admissions consultants reinforced the story line by telling the Journal that Wharton’s luster has faded in recent years. Eliot Ingram, a Wharton alum and CEO of Clear Admit, said that one of the firm’s clients turned down a $70,000 scholarship from Wharton this year to attend Harvard Business School because the applicant believed HBS had a stronger global brand. “We’re hearing (applicants say) Stanford, Harvard or nothing. It used to be Stanford, Harvard or Wharton,” the Journal quoted Jeremy Shinewald, founder of admissions consultant mbaMission.

    Some Wharton insiders, understandably angry with the Journal’s conclusions, grumbled that the newspaper was looking for a deliberately provocative article on business schools in the wake of The New York Times’ story on gender inequality at Harvard Business Schools. Both media outlets furiously compete with each other in business coverage and clearly the NYT story fueled much discussion and debate.

    THE GOOD NEWS MAY OFFSET THE BAD NEWS AT WHARTON

    Did the Journal over reach? After all, MBA graduates from Wharton this year had one of the best placement records in the school’s history. Some 97.8% of the class had job offers three months after graduation, up from 95.5% a year earlier, and median base salaries rose to $125,000, up $5,000 from 2012.

    This year’s entering class at Wharton, moreover, is arguably its best ever — at least as judged by average GMAT scores. The 725 average GMAT score for the Class of 2015 is a record and seven points higher than the previous year. Wharton’s average GMAT score is now the second highest of any school in the world, behind only Stanford University’s 729 average from last year.

    And unlike many other business schools, Wharton has led the way by enrolling record percentages of women, higher than either Harvard or Stanford. This year, 42% of the entering class is made up of women.

    Instead of floundering, Wharton is seen by some key observers as a true innovator. “Having met with the Wharton admissions staff and heads of several initiatives a few months ago, I’m impressed by how they’re changing the game,” insists Dan Bauer, founder of The MBA Exchange, a leading MBA admissions consultancy. “Wharton is implementing a more flexible curriculum, improving the overall experience with a new student center, and leveraging their San Francisco campus. The Lauder MA/MBA Program, the Healthcare Management Program, and the Zell-Lurie Real Estate Center are second to none. The concentration in retailing is a well-kept secret. And Wharton’s offer of a free exec ed class every seven years for MBA grads is amazing.”

    Bauer says his firm is actually seeing increased interest in Wharton from this year’s current crop of applicants. “Having seen a bump for Round 1 and expecting more of the same for Round 2, we’ve added consultants with Wharton backgrounds to our team at The MBA Exchange,” he says. “A Wharton MBA education is like a ‘blue-chip stock’ with a long history of growth. Yes, the market’s enthusiasm and demand for any investment will ebb and flow over time, but in this case, the long-term ROI is rock solid.”

    Yet, the Journal isn’t talking trash about Wharton for nothing. In fact, the newspaper was being somewhat charitable to Wharton by reporting that MBA applications there have fallen by 12% in the past four years. The decline over the past five years has actually been a more severe 17.2%. And this past year’s fall in applicants — 5.8% — occurred as rival Chicago Booth reported a 10% increase. Finance rival and powerhouse Columbia Business School had a 7% rise, and Harvard was also up, with a more modest 4% increase.

    Some believe the latest decline at Wharton can be attributed to a new team-based discussion requirement which scared away candidates who speak English as a second language. That is a plausible explanation, though the decline of Wall Street has clearly had an impact on the school which is still considered by many to be number one in finance, along with a fair degree of turnover of leadership in the admissions office at Wharton. The school has had four different admission directors in the past ten years.

    More worrisome than the application drop, perhaps, is Wharton’s fall in both the Bloomberg BusinessWeek and The Financial Times’ rankings in recent years. For years, the general impression — though rarely confirmed by independent rankings — has had H/S/W (Harvard, Stanford and Wharton) as the top three business schools in the world.

    The No. 1 showing by the University of Chicago’s Booth School in the BusinessWeek rankings since 2006, however, has clearly eroded that positioning. For each of the past three years, in fact, Poets&Quants — which publishes an annual composite rating of the five most influential MBA rankings — has placed Wharton fourth behind Harvard, Stanford and Chicago.

    In truth, the differences between Chicago and Wharton are so slim as to be statistically insignificant. But the gap between Wharton and the top two schools — Harvard and Stanford — is more meaningful. The acceptance rates at both HBS and Stanford are about half of what they are at Wharton: Stanford’s 8% and Harvard’s 12% versus Wharton’s 22%. The yield — the percentage of accepted applicants who enroll at a school — also is significantly higher at both Harvard and Stanford. Roughly 90% of the applicants accepted at Harvard enroll, and about 85% of the applicants at Stanford take the school up on its offer of admission.

    In contrast, Wharton’s yield — which the school says hit a new record this year — is not much more than 65%, a number more in the company of Columbia, MIT, Chicago, Northwestern, and Dartmouth than Harvard or Stanford. Wharton does not disclose its yield number, though it is easiest enough to calculate. But it’s hardly surprising that a candidate might turn down a generous scholarship from Wharton to attend Harvard, especially if financial aid isn’t that important to the applicant (though it is worth noting that no business school is as generous as Harvard in dangling scholarship cash in front of its MBA applicants).

    As evidence of Wharton’s decline, the Journal also noted that Wharton, which once sent more than a quarter of its MBA graduates into investment banking and brokerage houses now only sends MBAs in the teens into those industries. Those numbers, which are misleading at best, are less a reflection of the school’s reputation than the changing dynamics of the financial economy. With the Great Recession, Wall Street has shed tens of thousands of jobs and fewer MBAs — at all the top schools — now go into finance. Most of that slack has been easily taken up by MBA hiring in consulting and technology as well as by hedge funds, private equity shops, and venture capital firms, places that MBAs prefer over the old i-banking and brokerage jobs cited.

    What’s undeniable is that Wharton has lost ground in the rankings race and the number of people who annually apply to the school has fallen significantly in the past five years. But those negatives may well be reason to apply to the school’s prestigious MBA program right now.

    As Bauer notes, “As with the stock market, when a given investment vehicle is underpriced, demand for it grows and a correction follows. That will happen with Wharton as highly motivated applicants worldwide view the decline in application volume as the ideal time to apply. The list of B-schools with truly global brands is very short. While we don’t see it surpassing Harvard and Stanford in that realm, Wharton’s place on this short list is unshakable. Bottom line: don’t sell Wharton short.”

    To see our full analysis on Wharton, check out PoetsandQuants.com:

    Is Wharton An Undervalued Stock?

    See also:

    Engaging Millennial Employees

    4 Ways To Make Networking More Meaningful

    Creativity Is Hard Work


    Join the conversation about this story »


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    Harvard University Law SchoolEven though the outlook on the legal job market still isn't too bright, picking the right law school will exponentially increase the likelihood of success after graduation.

    With the help of SurveyMonkey
    Audience we asked more than 400 American legal professionals — 70% of whom are attorneys — to select the 10 law schools that would best serve a legal career, and Harvard Law School was the resounding answer.

    This is the second year in a row that Harvard took the number one spot on our list of Best Law Schools, with Yale coming in right behind it.

    Click here to go to a one-page version of our "best law school" list >

    #50 University of Iowa

    The University of Iowa scored a 1.14 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

    Tuition and fees: $49,025

    Situated in the beautiful college town of Iowa City, the University of Iowa College of Law is known for being the first public university to grant law degrees to women and African Americans. U.S. Federal Judge Ed McManus called himself a Hawkeye.

    For this survey, we asked hundreds of legal professionals to select the 10 law schools that would be best for a legal career. We calculated the Business Insider rating score based on survey data from SurveyMonkey. Tuition was used as a tiebreaker, with cheaper tuition pushing a school to a higher spot.



    #49 Indiana University – Bloomington (Maurer)

    Maurer School of Law scored a 1.14 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

    Tuition and fees: $48,962

    The first-year curriculum uses legal ethics as the spine of its course work, immersing students in a variety of practice settings. Notable alumni include U.S. District Court Judge Rodolfo Lozano and former Governor of Indiana Frank O'Bannon.

    For this survey, we asked hundreds of legal professionals to select the 10 law schools that would be best for a legal career. We calculated the Business Insider rating score based on survey data from SurveyMonkey. Tuition was used as a tiebreaker, with cheaper tuition pushing a school to a higher spot.



    #48 University of Georgia

    The University of Georgia scored a 1.16 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

    Tuition and fees: $36,410

    Ranked #33 by U.S. News & World Report, this public law school in Athens, Ga., makes global opportunities a focus, particularly its study- and work-abroad programs.

    Yemeni Prime Minister Abdul Karim al-Iryani and "Real Housewives of Atlanta" cast member Phaedra Parks attended.

    For this survey, we asked hundreds of legal professionals to select the 10 law schools that would be best for a legal career. We calculated the Business Insider rating score based on survey data from SurveyMonkey. Tuition was used as a tiebreaker, with cheaper tuition pushing a school to a higher spot.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    aldi supermarketAldi, Amazon, Google, and McDonald's are among the world’s favorite brands in 2013, according to a new ranking from the consulting firm Siegel+Gale.

    To determine the rankings, Siegel+Gale asked more than 10,000 consumers in seven countries to review hundreds of brands based on the simplicity of their products, advertising, and customer service.

    Why does simplicity matter?

    "People are more likely to recommend brands that are simpler, and they are happy to pay a premium — pay more money — for the simpler brands," said Brian Rafferty, Siegel+Gale's research director.

    According to the report, consumers are willing to spend at least 5% more for simpler brands, and 75% of people are more likely to recommend a brand because it provides simpler experiences.

    Consumers said they would be willing to spend at least 17% more for simpler experiences with brands like BlackBerry, Virgin Mobile, Nissan, and Toyota, all of which ranked lower in the report.

    Here are the 10 most simple brands worldwide, according to the report:

    1. Aldi

    Rafferty said the Germany-based supermarket chain ranked No. 1 because it markets itself as being a no-frills company with low prices and it’s "really delivering on that [promise]."

    2. Amazon

    The e-retailer gets its No. 2 ranking for its "easy-to-use click-through purchase process" and the transparency of its customer reviews system, according to the report.

    3. Google

    The Internet search giant takes the No. 3 spot, down from first place last year, for its "intuitive user interface" and new app Google Now.

    4. McDonald’s

    Siegel+Gale says McDonald’s consistently ranks in the top 10 for its “accessible menu, transparent pricing and clear, concise messaging.”

    5. KFC

    The fast food brand has a "straightforward lineup of food and pricing, paired with roadside ubiquity and a successful online coupon program," according to the report.

    6. Carrefour

    Survey respondents praised the French retailer for carrying "everything you need under one roof." Siegel+Gale also notes that under new CEO George Plassat, store managers are able to tailor inventory to local tastes, helping to make products more relevant to consumers. 

    7. C&A

    The Dutch fashion retailer, which has branches in 20 European countries, utilizes radio-frequency identification technology, or RFID, to restock shelves quickly and efficiently. Consumers described the brand as cost-effective and reliable.

    8. Samsung

    Rafferty said Samsung’s ranking in the top 10 came as a shock to him, as Apple has always beat out Samsung in Siegel+Gale's four years of surveys. A closer look at the data showed that most of Apple’s low "simplicity" rankings were coming from China, where consumers cited labor issues and service problems. By comparison, consumers rated Samsung positively for its flagship phone, the Galaxy, and the company's positioning as “a modern, yet accessible technology brand.”

    9. Ikea

    The low prices and "easy-to-navigate stores" at IKEA helped it land the No. 9 spot.

    10. Pizza Hut

    The world’s largest pizza franchise beat out other fast food brands including Burger King and Subway, which ranked eleventh and fifteenth, respectively. Respondents praised Pizza Hut for its "completely fresh online experience" and the ability to place orders through Xbox.

    See the full rankings here:

    Global simplicity index

    Join the conversation about this story »


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    Even if we're all just human, sexual habits vary greatly by country.

    Global sex trends identified by condom maker Durex in a 2005-2009 survey were mapped at ChartsBin (and cited as some of the 40 maps that explain the world by TwistedSifter).

    Average Age of First Intercourse by Country:

    Youngest on the list is Iceland at an average age of 15.6. Israel is almost as eager at 16.7 years old, followed by Brazil at 17.4 and the United States at 18 years. East Asians wait longest, China at 22.1 and Malaysia at 23 years old. 

    Average Age at first sex by Country

     

    Sex on a Weekly Basis by Country: 

    Greece tops the list of having the most sex on a weekly basis at 87%. Brazil and Russia sit high on the list at 82% and 80%, respectively. Just over half of people in the US have weekly sex at 53%. Japanese are least likely to have weekly sex at 34%.

    map of Percentage of People Having Sex Weekly by Country

     

    Sex Satisfaction by Country

    Nigerians are the most satisfied at 67% and followed by Mexico at 63%. The Greeks are only 51% satisfied with their sex even though they topped the "most sex per week" list. The United States is partially satisfied at 48% but ranks higher than Brazil, China, and Russia, which all have 42% sexual satisfaction. Japanese, who have sex least often, also have the lowest sexual satisfaction at 15%. 

    Satisfaction in Having Sex by Country

    SEE ALSO: Good sex depends on your partner's motivation

    Join the conversation about this story »


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    Skyline_of_Plano_Texas

    In our ranking of the 20 most underrated cities for 20-somethings, we compared a livability ranking from AreaVibes.com to a ranking system of our own, the Shiftless Millennial City Index. Here's how we did this comparison.

    Click here to jump right to the ranking >>

    The AreaVibes ranking system, like any complex metric, has a large element of subjectivity. Someone decided what variables to use, how to score them, and how to weigh them to get the overall composite livability index.

    Although each of the component numbers is objective, the way in which the numbers are put together and used is not. Looking at the 88 cities with populations greater than 200,000 ranked by AreaVibes, we see a lot of affluent cities in the South and Southwest performing very well, with the metropolises of the Northeast and Upper Midwest ranking quite poorly. Plano, TX is apparently the best big city in America; New York is all the way down at 64th.

    The AreaVibes ranking seems much better suited to someone a bit further along in their life development than I am. I'm a somewhat reckless, single 20-something trying to start a career. Buying a house, settling down, and worrying about what school district I live in are completely alien concepts. So, I built the Shiftless Millennial City Index (SMCI) to better help me figure out where I should live.

    Here are the factors that went into the SMCI:

    Parks  A thriving park system is essential to a livable city. As much as I love urban living, I do need, from time to time, to reconnect with nature, or at least a heavily curated version of nature. Parks are also emblematic of a larger community spirit. Parks are places where people go together to relax, congregate, and just enjoy life. 15% of the SMCI consists of the percentage of a city's land area dedicated to parkland, gathered from The Trust for Public Land's 2012 “City Park Facts” report.[i]

    Music/Event Venues  Shiftless millennials love going to shows. That means a city with a large number of venues, relative to its population, for concerts and other events is ideal. To get a rough idea of the number of large venues near a city, I looked for venues listed on TicketMaster.com for each of the studied cities, and adjusted the number based on the population of the city. This component makes up 10% of the SMCI.

    Bars  Shiftless millennials also love drinking in groups. Bars per capita is thus a component of the SMCI. I used a similar protocol as with event venues  I went to Yelp.com, searched for bars near each of the studied cities, and noted the number of results. Bars per capita makes up 15% of the SMCI.

    Single People  Now that we've identified some places to go and things to do, we need to find people with whom we can enjoy these things. As a measure of the prevalence of single folks in a city, we take the percentage of the population that's never been married, courtesy of the Missouri Census Data Center. As finding good people to mingle with is a very important goal for the shiftless millennial, this component accounts for 25% of the SMCI.

    Public Transportation — To get to our parks and venues and dates, shiftless millennials need a way to get around. As a generation, we are far fonder of public transit and walking, and less enthusiastic about driving, than our parents and grandparents. For a snapshot of the transit use in a city, we use the percentage of the population that commutes using public transportation, again coming from the Missouri Census Data Center, and this measure gives us 15% of the SMCI.

    Cost of Living  Shiftless millennials are often poor, and so cost of living is the final component of the SMCI. I gathered CoL index data for each city from real estate analysis site Sperling's Best Places (www.bestplaces.net). Cost of Living makes up 20% of the SMCI.

    To determine the SMCI for each city, we first take each of the above measures and turn it into an index by taking each city's value, dividing by the average value for that measure, and then multiplying by 100[ii]. For example, Mesa, AZ has about 29 Yelp-rated bars per 10,000 residents, compared to the average among the 88 cities of about 22.3 bars per 10,000 residents, giving Mesa a Yelp Bar Index of (29/22.3)*100 = 130.

    This index is handy for a couple reasons. First, it nicely represents each measure as a percentage of the average, so Mesa has 30% more bars per 10,000 residents than the average city in this study. Second, this index is “unit-less,” and all of the indexes are on the same scale, so we can nicely combine our different components into the overall SMCI  we don't have to worry about what it means to add bars per capita to the percent of a city's land area dedicated to parks.

    To get the full SMCI, we take a weighted average of the component indexes, using the weights outlined above. We then ranked the cities based on their SMCI's, and plotted our rankings against the AreaVibes rankings:

    City Chart
    The further to the left a city is, the better its AreaVibes ranking. The further down a city is, the better its Shiftless Millennial ranking. So, for example, Fremont, CA did very well on both ranking systems – Areavibes ranked it 5th, and it's the 8th best city for a shiftless millennial.

    The most interesting feature of this graph are the two large, semi-coherent blobs of cities in the upper left and lower right corners. The upper left cities are cities that scored well on the AreaVibes ranking, but poorly on the SMCI ranking. Many of these cities are sunbelt enclaves. The lower right cities are those that I find underrated by AreaVibes  they had low AreaVibes scores, but ranked very well with my metric. These are predominantly northern and coastal cities, which I much prefer over the South, so my metric did a very nice job of assessing cities I would like to live in.

    The underrated cities are those far down and to the right on the chart, with the largest differences between AreaVibes rankings and SMCI rankings.


    [i]    Three of the cities  Montgomery, AL; Shreveport, LA; and Akron, OH, were not included in the TPL report. For these cities, the park index is omitted, and the weights of the other components are adjusted accordingly.

    [ii]   Cost of Living is an exception here  first, I used a measure that was already an index, so no division was necessary. Second, and more importantly, for all of our other components, the higher the index, the better the city. A higher park index means more parks, a higher singles index means more single people. Cost of Living is the opposite – the higher the cost of living, the less desirable the city. To deal with this, I took a scaled reciprocal of the CoL index. This has the effect of translating low CoL indexes into higher scores and vice versa  a city with a really low CoL index of 50 would end up with a score of 200; a city with a really high CoL index of 150 would end up with a score of about 67.

    SEE ALSO: The 20 Most Underrated Cities For 20-Somethings

    Join the conversation about this story »


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    IMG_3858Rankings of cities measuring "livability" or "quality of life" are a staple of the Internet. Livability, however, is very much in the eye of the beholder.

    Areavibes.com provides a typical such livability metric. Cities are rated by a combination of factors – proximity to amenities, cost of living, crime rates, educational facilities, the local labor market, the housing market, and weather.

    Click here to jump right to the underrated cities for 20-somethings >>

    The AreaVibes metric seems like it would be helpful to an affluent, mid-career professional with a couple of kids in school who is looking to buy a house and put down roots.

    This ranking is completely useless to me. I am a somewhat reckless, single 20-something trying to start a career. Buying a house, settling down, and worrying about what school district I live in are completely alien concepts.

    I am far more interested in meeting interesting people and experiencing all that life has to offer. To help me decide where I and other similarly inclined members of my generation should live, I have put together a ranking of my own: the Shiftless Millennial City Index (SMCI). This index is based on amount of parkland, number of large music venues per capita, number of bars per capita, how many people are single, access to public transportation, and cost of living. (You can read more about the methodology here).

    We can see which cities are the most underrated by AreaVibes by subtracting SMCI rankings from AreaVibes rankings for the 88 cities ranked by AreaVibes with populations of at least 200,000  the bigger the difference, the more underrated the city. This gives us an idea of some of the places where shiftless millennials should live.

    #20 San Francisco, CA

    AreaVibes Ranking: 53rd

    Shiftless Millennial Ranking: 5th

    San Francisco scored very well in most of the categories going into the SMCI. SF was below average in only two categories  it has the worst cost of living index of any of the cities we ranked, and it has, somewhat shockingly, a slightly below average number of venues listed on TicketMaster.

    San Francisco's low AreaVibes score — and relatively low ranking on our underrated cities list — came as a surprise. I can understand how one could make a metric of city quality that would disfavor the big cities of the Northeast and Midwest – it's easy to hate on Detroit and New York – but San Francisco is just so awesome that the mind boggles that it could be below the median on any ranking system of large cities.



    #19 Cleveland, OH

    AreaVibes Ranking: 86th

    Shiftless Millennial Ranking: 37th

    Even though Cleveland is only average on the SMCI, AreaVibes hates the city  Cleveland is the third lowest ranked city in the group. Cleveland's saving graces on the SMCI are its decent public transportation, large number of single people, and low cost of living.

    However, a lack of bars, parks, and concert venues limits Cleveland's potential as a destination for the young and reckless.



    #18 Rochester, NY

    AreaVibes Ranking: 77th

    Shiftless Millennial Ranking: 26th

    Abundant parkland, a large number of venues, and plenty of awesome bars like The Bug Jar, along with a low cost of living, help push Rochester up in the SMCI rankings.

    Having grown up in Western New York, I'm happy to see Rochester on this list. Over the last decade or so, Rochester has become the cooler version of Buffalo, with a lot of young artists and the like moving there.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    portlandA number of factors go into choosing a new city to call home — affordability, quality of life, and availability of jobs are some standard things that young people take into account when considering a move. 

    Still, there are some elements of city living that many surveys don't address. How much would a pint of beer in San Francisco cost? Are there a lot of coffee shops in Philadelphia? Could I go see a concert in Dallas? 

    News organization Vocativ just released their first Livability Index, which ranks the 35 best U.S. cities for people under 35. They based their ranking on traditional data, like unemployment rates and average rent, but also included "softer" data points that would be relevant to people in their 20s and 30s. Most of the data came from the "deep web," publicly available information that is not necessarily available in Google search.

    Cities were chosen based on 20 factors including youngest population, lowest average rent, cheapest gas and electricity prices, food prices and public transportation. Vocativ also factored in laundromats, coffee shops, cheap takeout restaurants, nail salons, and music venues per capita, as well as the prices of beer, cigarettes, and marijuana. See the complete methodology here.

    #35 Colorado Springs, CO

    This young mountain town has a growing arts community, and creature comforts like beer and cigarettes are cheap. It's also an ideal place to date, with 50,000 single Facebook users in a city of less than 500,000. 

     Source: Vocativ Livability Index



    #34 Milwaukee, WI

    With a median age of just 30.5, Milwaukee is the second-youngest city on the index. Even better, a pint in the so-called beer capital of the world will only cost you $5, one of the cheapest brews in the country. 

    Source: Vocativ Livability Index



    #33 Philadelphia, PA

    The City of Brotherly Love has one of the best and most frequently used public transportation systems in the country, with 22% of its residents using it weekly. Philly also has a high percentage of green commuters, with the fourth-highest share of residents traveling by bicycle or on foot.  

    Source: Vocativ Livability Index



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Men's WearhouseRetail companies are often criticized for paying low wages, requiring long hours, and offering too few opportunities for full-time employment.

    So we set out to find the companies — specifically in fashion retail — where employees love coming to work every day.

    We asked Glassdoor.com to help us review hundreds of employee ratings to identify the best companies.

    The most common benefit that the happiest of employees cited was deep discounts on store merchandise, including 50% off at Brooks Brothers and 30% off at J. Crew. Other perks that employees praised included tuition reimbursement, flexible hours, "great people," good customers, and "thousands of dollars worth of free products."

    But even the best companies have unhappy employees. We've included both positive and negative reviews for each company in the ranking. Complaints included long hours, the stress of prom season (Men's Wearhouse) and the cost of adhering to dress code standards (J. Crew).

    For the purposes of the report, we included companies with U.S. store locations that had received at least 25 employee reviews in the past year. The company ratings are based on a 5-point scale, with "1" being very dissatisfied and "5" being very satisfied.

    10. Men’s Wearhouse

    Company rating: 3.4 

    Pro:“TMW offers a pretty good discount on purchases, 401k, discount on company stock and tuition reimbursement. The company has a great message of servant leadership and transparency.” – Men’s Wearhouse Employee

    Con:“Prom season (March-June) can get very stressful for all employees in a store. There are a lot of people to be helped in a short amount of time. Patience decreases and tensions rise.” – Men’s Wearhouse Wardrobe Consultant (North Canton, Ohio)



    9. The Gap

    Company rating: 3.4

    Pro:“Flexible hours, good pay, opportunity for getting a raise, rewards program, flexible hours, discounts at Gap, Gap Outlet, Old Navy, and Banana Republic.” – The Gap Sales Associate

    Con:“Many employees don't work at a rapid fire pace like we need to and it leaves a lot on the shoulders of those who do.” – The Gap Sales Associate (Bloomington, Ill.)



    8. Francesca’s Collections

    Company rating: 3.5

    Pro:“Really great company to work for, upper management keeps close ties with the stores to make sure they are successful and that they are being honest with their work ethics. Great management, great atmosphere, and really nice people in general.” – Francesca’s Collections Boutique Key Holder (Chicago)

    Con:“The employee discount could be better, considering we always have a rack of clothes (clothes that are the last one) that are 30/40% off.” – Francesca’s Collections Boutique Associate (Lone Tree, Colo.)



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Long regarded as an academic powerhouse that educates some of the country's brightest students, Stuyvesant High School is the best public high school in New York City, according to data compiled by FindTheBest.

    FindTheBest recently partnered with the NYC Department of Education to build a comparison system for public schools in the city. Its "smart rating" is based off of Quality of Education scores and Student Progress Reports.

    Based on this rating, FindTheBest has come up with a list for Business Insider of the 10 best public high schools in NYC. These schools represent all five of the city's boroughs, and specialize in everything from science to performing arts.

    Check out the full list below:

    #1 Stuyvesant High School — Battery Park, Manhattan

    Stuyvesant High School

    Stuyvesant had 10 Intel Science competition semi-finalists in 2013, the most of any high school in the country. In 2012, the school had 13 semi-finalists, which was also the highest amount.

    #2 Staten Island Technical High School — New Dorp, Staten Island

    Staten Island Technical High School Campus

    The school recently opened a state of the art television studio, which allows for both in-school broadcasts and student produced features.

    #3 High School of American Studies at Lehman College — Bedford Park, Bronx

    High School American Studies Lehman College Students Basketball

    American Studies is located on the Lehman College campus, and students have access to their gym and cafeteria.

    #4 Bronx High School of Science — Bedford Park, Bronx

    Bronx High School of Science

    Eight Bronx Science alumni have gone on to win Nobel Prizes — seven in physics and one in chemistry — which is the most of any secondary school in the United States.

    #5 Townsend Harris High School — Kew Gardens Hills, Queens

    Townsend Harris High School

    All students have to complete a two-year classical language requirement in either Latin, classical Greek, or Hebrew.

    #6 Queens High School for the Sciences at York College — Jamaica, Queens

    Queens High School Sciences York College

    Students take two periods of science each year, and many finish their math requirements by their sophomore year, allowing for AP courses and electives.

    #7 High School for Mathematics, Science and Engineering at City College — Hamilton Heights, Manhattan

    Baskerville Hall Campus City College

    About 75% of students study German for their foreign language requirement, making for the largest high school German program in the United States.

    #8 Brooklyn Technical High School — Fort Greene, Brooklyn

    Brooklyn Tech High School Volleyball Team

    Brooklyn Tech uses a major system for upperclassmen classes, and students can apply for a specific major — options include BioMedical Engineering and Media Communications — after their sophomore year.

    #9 Eleanor Roosevelt High School — Upper East Side, Manhattan

    Eleanor Roosevelt High School Student

    Founded in 2002, Eleanor Roosevelt has quickly established itself as a top high school and just graduated their eighth class of students this past May.

    #10 Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts — Upper West Side, Manhattan

    LaGuardia High School Students Choir Singing

    LaGuardia served as the inspiration for the move "Fame," about a group of students at a performing arts high school in New York City.

    For more details on these top schools, check out this interactive infographic from FindTheBest:

    Join the conversation about this story »


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  • 11/14/13--07:15: America's Smartest Colleges
  • studying, thinking, working, desk

    National and global rankings for colleges each year are based almost solely on standardized test performances and information about the school's resources (including endowment per student, student-faculty ratio, and graduation rates)

    Dr. Daniel Sternberg at Lumosity, a cognitive training site run by Lumos Labs, sought to find out with a series of games which of America's leading higher education institutions was actually the most intelligent.

    He and his team tested 70,000 students from colleges and universities (with a minimum of 50 Lumosity users) nationwide with games that measured various cognitive skills including attention, memory, speed of processing, problem solving, and flexibility.

    This year, Tufts University was ranked highest in attention, while Dartmouth was best in speed. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology placed first in both memory and problem solving, and Yale University was ranked the highest for flexibility.

    The overall winner was Washington University in St. Louis, squeaking past last year's winner, MIT, as well as beating powerhouse institutions such as Harvard, Yale, and Princeton for the title.

    Of course, as we've written about before, there are two major downsides to this method of analysis: First, Lumosity only sampled people who were willing to play their games, which left off a number of top schools and liberal arts colleges, including CalTech. Secondly, there is no peer-reviewed research demonstrating that the Lumosity games are reliable or valid measures of intelligence.

    But check out the top 30 Lumosity schools below anyways to get some bragging rights. (See the full ranking and analysis here.)

    1. Washington University in St Louis

    2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

    3. Princeton University

    4. Northwestern University

    5. Carnegie Mellon University

    6. University of Chicago

    7. Rice University

    8. Harvard University

    9. Yale University

    10. Dartmouth College

    11. Tufts University

    12. Stanford University

    13. Georgetown University (TIE)

    13. University of Notre Dame (TIE)

    15. University of Virginia

    16. Duke University

    17. Bucknell University (TIE)

    17. Vanderbilt University (TIE)

    19. College of William and Mary (TIE)

    19. Boston College (TIE)

    21. Bowdoin College

    22. Johns Hopkins University

    23. Cornell University (TIE)

    23. University of California-San Diego (TIE)

    23. Georgia Institute of Technology (TIE)

    26. Columbia University in the City of New York

    27. Worcester Polytechnic Institute

    28. Boston University

    29. Wheaton College

    30. Case Western Reserve University

    DON'T MISS: Business Insider's Official Ranking Of The 25 Smartest Colleges In America

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    wine

    For the past 25 years, Wine Spectator's editors have had the enviable job of selecting the best wines from around the world.

    In 2013 alone, they reviewed more than 20,000 new wines and narrowed their list down to a manageable 100 they deemed the most "exciting."

    The ranking spans over 14 countries (including the U.S.) with an average price point of a fairly affordable $51. Even Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt's new Rosé Miraval wine made the cut.

    Below are the 20 best wines of 2013, according to Wine Spectator, based on quality, value, availability, and "x-factor." These should be on your radar in the upcoming months and years.

    1. Cune Rioja Imperial Gran Reserva ($63)

    2. Château Canon-La Gaffelière St.-Emilion ($103)

    3. Domaine Serene Pinot Noir Willamette Valley Evenstad Reserve ($65)

    4. Hewitt Cabernet Sauvignon Rutherford ($92)

    5. Kongsgaard Chardonnay Napa Valley ($75)

    6. Giuseppe Mascarello & Figlio Barolo Monprivato ($110)

    7. Domaine du Pégaü Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Réservée ($120)

    8. Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape ($120)

    9. Lewis Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Reserve ($135)

    10. Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley ($135)

    11. Reynvaan Syrah Walla Walla Valley Stonessence ($70)

    12. Turley Zinfandel Paso Robles Dusi Vineyard ($42)

    13. Croft Vintage Port ($93)

    14. Bedrock The Bedrock Heritage Sonoma Valley ($37)

    15. Olivier Ravoire Gigondas ($33)

    16. G.D. Vajra Barolo Albe ($42)

    17. Alexana Pinot Noir Dundee Hills Revana Vineyard ($42)

    18. Poggerino Chianti Classico ($25)

    19. Hamilton Russell Chardonnay Hemel-en-Aarde Valley ($33)

    20. Chateau Dereszla Tokaji Aszú 5 Puttonyos ($40)

    View the full list of Wine Spectator's top 100 wines in 2013 here.

    SEE ALSO: 12 Cooking Hacks For A Hassel-Free Thanksgiving

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    Space Needle

    When travelers from Seattle come to the desert, Heidi Lamar often thinks one thing: these people look fabulous.

    “Our aestheticians are always amazed at how great their skin is,” said the owner of Spa Lamar in Scottsdale, Ariz. Thanks partially to the fact that the skin-damaging sun stays behind Seattle’s clouds much of the year, folks from the Pacific Northwest, she said, “have a natural, youthful glow that makes both men and women beautiful.”

    See where the most attractive Americans live >

    Perhaps it’s why Seattle natives made the top 10 for good-looking locals, according to Travel + Leisure readers. The annual America’s Favorite Cities survey asks readers to evaluate 35 major metropolitan areas on everything from museums and street food to the friendliness and attractiveness of residents. The survey allows for repeat voting, and some cities turned out the vote more than others. 

    This year’s results reveal some bold choices in the category for attractive locals. Sun-kissed southern Californians, for instance, got shut out of the top 10, replaced by northern-city locals who often embrace a more hipster aesthetic. The nightclub-ready lookers of Miami and the Big Apple, meanwhile, got pushed aside for the more casual, corn-fed types from the Midwest.

    Of course, sex appeal is more than just skin deep. Sonita Lontoh, a tech exec from Silicon Valley, says that she finds people from cities such as Portland, Ore., and Chicago have an earthy magnetism.

    “They have an inner confidence that shines," Lontoh said, "You won’t see Barbie-like, Baywatch babes in
 these cities, but people who are comfortable in their own skins.”

    10. Charleston, S.C.

    The South Carolina city has long been a hit with readers for its Lowcountry fine dining and King Street shopping and antiques. And the well-coiffed locals return to the good-looking top 10 this year, thanks no doubt to their genteel vibes and long-voweled accents.

    But the city need not feel too pricey: it also ranked at the top for its treasure-trove flea markets.

    RELATED: See all the America’s Favorite Cities survey results >



    9. Seattle

    Say what you want about rain, but these Washingtonians know the benefits of staying out of the wrinkle-inducing sun. Voters also liked Seattle’s balance of big-city elegance and exercise-loving earthiness.

    And whether or not it’s that legendary espresso that quickens your pulse, the city also ranked in the top 10 for romantic getaways.

    RELATED: America's Best Cities For Hipsters >



    8. Portland, Ore.

    This Oregon hub shows that you don’t have to be a conformist to be eye-catching: the hipster capital scored at the top of the survey for colorful people-watching (a good spot is Powell’s downtown flagship bookstore).

    Locals also have an attractive confidence, ranking in the top five for being both easygoing and proud of their hometown.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Chinese universities are the most dominant of any "emerging economy," according to a new list from Times Higher Education.

    THE ranked universities from BRICS — Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa — and 17 other countries with emerging economies. China had the largest representation of any country, with 23 schools in THE's top 100 — including four in the top 10.

    One education expert told THE that the Chinese government has set aside "special funding" to boost the status of 39 of its schools and encourages universities to create joint programs with Western institutions.

    Here are the top 10 universities from an emerging economy:

    #10 Lomonosov Moscow State University — Russian Federation

    Lomonosov Moscow State University Russia Campus

    #9 Middle East Technical University — Turkey

    Middle East Technical University Campus Turkey

    #8 Fudan University — China

    Fudan University Library China

    #7 Istanbul Technical University — Turkey

    Istanbul Technical University Campus Turkey

    #6 University of Science and Technology of China — China

    University Science Technology China Campus Sculpture

    #5 Boğaziçi University — Turkey

    Boğaziçi Üniversitesi Turkey Campus

    #4 National Taiwan University — Taiwan

    National Taiwan University Students Campus

    #3 University of Cape Town — South Africa

    University Cape Town South Africa Campus

    #2 Tsinghua University — China

    Tsinghua University Campus China

    #1 Peking University — China

    Peking University Campus China

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    cartwheel fun exercise desert

    This year's top ten healthiest states were just announced. 

    America's Health Rankings is an annual report that analyzes the nation's health and ranks the states from healthiest to unhealthiest. The report is the result of the collaboration of the United Health Foundation, American Public Health Association, and Partnership for Prevention.

    You can also check out the 10 unhealthiest states >

    But how does a state make it into the top 10? There are four main categories that America's Health Rankings analyzes to determine the healthiest states: the behavior and everyday activities of people living in each state, the community and environment that people are living in in each state, state health policies, and clinical care. This includes data on things like smoking, obesity, physical inactivity, binge drinking, high school graduation rates, and children in poverty.

    Below you can see the healthiest states in the U.S. and some of the reasons they made the top of the list. Did your state crack the top 10?

    10. New Jersey

    Air quality has improved in the state. In the past 10 years the rate of cardiovascular deaths has decreased by 1/3.

    9. North Dakota

    More kids graduated from high school in North Dakota this year and there is more public health funding available per person in the state.

    8. Colorado

    You can find some of the best air quality in Colorado and some of the lowest obesity and diabetes rates. Colorado stole the number eight spot from North Dakota this year.

    7. Connecticut

    Connecticut held on to its same rank as last year. More people in the state are active and more people have health insurance.

    6. Utah

    People in Utah smoke and binge drink less than in other states, but the state does experience a high rate of drug-related deaths.

    5. New Hampshire

    This state held onto the same rank as last year. Smoking and cardiovascular deaths have decreased over the past few years.

    4. Massachusetts

    Massachusetts has one of the lowest obesity rates in the nation: 23% of the adult population. Increasingly more kids are graduating from high school.

    3. Minnesota

    People in Minnesota were more physically active this year and the prevalence of diabetes in the state is one of the lowest in the nation. The rate of cardiovascular deaths has decreased by 40% over the past 10 years.

    2. Vermont

    Smoking and heart disease deaths have decreased in Vermont. Interestingly the amount of binge drinking and children in poverty increased, but the state is still holding on to the number two spot.

    1. Hawaii

    How did Hawaii top the list as the healthiest state? There was a big decrease in the number of people who smoke and the amount of violent crime. The state has a long history of being part of the top ten: the lowest Hawaii has slipped is to the number six spot since the report began in 1990.

    Below are the states that improved the most from 2012. The column on the far right shows how many spots they jumped.

    most improved healthy states

    SEE ALSO: These Are The 10 Unhealthiest States In The US

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    2013 state health ranking

    America's Health Rankings— an annual report released by the United Health Foundation, American Public Health Association, and Partnership for Prevention — just announced the healthiest and least healthy states in America.

    This year's unhealthiest state was Mississippi, which is known for having some the highest rates in the nation for physical inactivity, obesity, and diabetes, as well as infectious diseases such as chlamydia and salmonella.

    The healthiest state was Hawaii, which has seen a large decrease in the number of people who smoke and the amount of violent crime.

    The annual report also made a map of the healthiest and unhealthiest states in the U.S. Basically, the greener your state is, the healthier it is, while those in the navy blue territory should start working a little more on their fitness.

    See the full list of healthiest U.S. states here >>

    See the full list of unhealthiest U.S. states here >>

    DON'T MISS: The 10 Happiest And Healthiest Cities In America

    Join the conversation about this story »


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    University California Los Angeles UCLA Marching Band

    The University of California, Los Angeles has the most driven students in the world, according to data compiled by ViewsOnYou.

    The London based startup sets up profiles for people to help match them with companies and employers that may be a good personality fit. A person on ViewsOnYou is matched with companies using three components — energy (how you work), interpersonal (how you interact), and intelligence (how you think).

    23 different metrics — including "drive"— factor into the three categories and are determined for each person from a combination of self-assessment and peer reviews. You can use Facebook and LinkedIn to set up your ViewsOnYou profile, which allows the website to compile rankings based on shared educational background.

    From ViewsOnYou, here are the 10 universities with the most driven students:

    #10 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign — Urbana-Champaign, Illinois

    University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

    #9 Massachusetts Institute of Technology — Cambridge, Massachusetts

    MIT Campus Dome

    #8 Northwestern University — Evanston, Illinois

    Northwestern University Student Union Library Lake Campus

    #7 University of Cambridge — Cambridge, England

    Cambridge University Campus Punting

    #6 Johns Hopkins University — Baltimore, Maryland

    Johns Hopkins University Campus

    #5 Stanford University — Stanford, California

    stanford university

    #4 University College London — London, England

    University College London

    #3 London School of Economics — London, England

    London School Economics

    #2 Vanderbilt University — Nashville, Tennessee

    Vanderbilt

    #1 University of California, Los Angeles — Los Angeles, California

    University California Los Angeles Campus UCLA

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    Not everyone can live in Oakland, CA. But after the Movoto Real Estate Blog named it the Most Exciting City in America earlier this year, it seemed like everyone in the Bay Area was thinking about giving it a shot. For some people, though, big cities just aren’t their thing. They enjoy the lifestyle that comes with living in a smaller city–but that doesn’t mean they don’t like to have fun.

    With that in mind, and given the fact that we’ve been looking more at small cities and suburbs lately, we decided it was time to look at excitement on a smaller scale. We set out to apply our mathematical methods to ranking the Most Exciting Small Cities in America–places that might be scaled down in size, but where people can still do some really big things.

    What did we find? We’re sure the passionate citizens of New Jersey will be happy to learn that their very own Hoboken, NJ took the (flashing, noise-making, spinning) crown of excitement after our results had been tallied.

    The birthplace of baseball–a sport whose degree of excitement varies depending on who you talk to–headed up a diverse top 10 of miniature metros.

    New Jersey actually had two small cities appear in the top 10. Oh, and Manhattan made the list… it’s just the one in Kansas. (Yes, really, Kansas.) Now, before you start asking how on Earth we came up with such a list, we’ll just tell you. Then, if you stick around, you can read some of what makes each of these 10 small cities so exciting.

    How Do You Measure Excitement?

    Whenever we put together one of these Big Deal Lists, we’re faced with a new challenge: How do we measure the thing we’re trying to rank cities on? In this case, that thing is excitement, something people are used to feeling, not quantifying with numbers. Numbers are kind of what we do around here, though, so we had to figure out a way to do just that.

    What we came up with is a combination of six criteria designed to put excitement into a tangible form:

    • Nightlife per capita (bars, clubs, comedy, etc.)

    • Live music venues per capita

    • Active life options per capita (parks, outdoor activities, etc.)

    • Fast Food restaurants per capita (the fewer the better)

    • Percentage of restaurants that are fast food (the lower the better)

    • Percentage of young residents ages 20 to 34 (the higher the better)

    With these picked out, we compiled a list of small cities across the country with populations between 50,000 and 60,000 residents, which came to a total of 140. We then researched our six criteria within each city and awarded a score from one to 140 in each criterion, with the best possible score being one.

    After all of the individual criteria has been scored and ranked, we averaged all the individual rankings for each city to produce an overall Big Deal Score. As with the individual criteria rankings, the lower this number was, the better. The 10 cities with the lowest overall scores were our most exciting small cities.

    If you think you can handle the excitement, we’ve detailed where Hoboken and the nine other highest achievers excelled below. You can also find a ranking of the top 50 cities at the end of this post. How’s that for exciting?

    1. Hoboken, NJ

    Hoboken

    This hip, young Garden State town taking top honors actually didn’t surprise us that much, especially not resident New Jerseyite and Movoto marketing director Chris Kolmar, who personally attested to its worthiness once the results were finalized. He should know, having personally penned multiple posts about his home state for the Movoto Blog.

    When we said Hoboken was young, we meant it. A full 46 percent of the place’s population is between 20 and 43 years of age–the largest such group in our top 10 by 3 percent margin over second-youngest San Marcos, TX. Hoboken’s youthful population seems to be getting its kicks mostly at bars and clubs–such as Maxwell’s, Bin 14, and 1 Republik–with the city posting the best overall score (third place) in nightlife out of any place in our top 10.

    Hoboken also scored especially well (fourth overall) for the percentage of its restaurants that are fast food chains–a miniscule 2.5 percent. Instead of mass-produced drek, they’re dining on exciting fare like La Isla’s famed stuffed French toast, which even Bobby Flay couldn’t top when the Cuban hotspot appeared on the Iron Chef’s show “Throwdown”.

    2. La Crosse, WI

    la crosse wi

    We know what you’re thinking: How can a town situated in the shadow of “Grandad Bluff” be exciting? Well, the numbers don’t lie. Numbers like five, which is the place La Crosse took when it came to nightlife, and we’re sure regulars at places like Bodega and the Starlite Lounge would agree if we could get them to put down their glasses for a second.

    La Crosse also posted great numbers when it came to active life and having a young population. It ranked 20th for the former and 11th for the latter, with 33 percent of its residents falling in our exciting age group of 20 to 34.

    3. Chapel Hill, NC

    Chapel Hill, NC

    One point of North Carolina’s “Research Triangle” and home to the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill claimed a fourth place finish for active life options, which isn’t surprising given its large student population. Nor should its 14th place ranking for nightlife be, when you consider it’s home to spots like Local 506 and Cave, venues that play host to world-renowned musical acts throughout the year.

    While Chapel Hill only ranked 49th for the percentage of non-fast food chain restaurants it boasts, that’s not to say there aren’t plenty of unique gems like the Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen and Merritt’s, where the BLT is not so much a sandwich as it is an artform.

    4. Lancaster, PA

    Lancaster_Pennsylvania_downtown

    If James Buchanan, our 15th President, were alive today, we can’t help but think he’d be living it up and enjoying Lancaster’s nightlife. We say that because the city certainly has plenty to offer, ranking seventh overall in this category. We’d probably find old Jimmy at places like Annie Bailey’s and Pour, practicing his mid-19th-century pickup lines on the ladies.

    Lancaster also did well in terms of its percentage of non-fast food restaurants (96 percent for a 12th place finish there), and its number of 20- to 34-year-old residents (27 percent, putting it at No. 15 in that category).

    5. New Brunswick, NJ

    new brunswick nj

    Remember when we said that New Jersey had not one, but two cities in our top 10? New Brunswick might’ve gotten trounced (relatively) by Hoboken, but a fifth place finish is still something to be excited about. Like Chapel Hill, New Brunswick likely owes some of its exciting cred to the fact that it’s a college town, in this case the home of Rutgers University.

    This clearly had a hand in New Brunswick’s fourth place ranking for 20 to 34-year-olds of 41 percent. The city also ranked respectably for non-chain restaurants (17th) and nightlife (19th), the latter category being headlined by places like Clydz, which–in addition to myriad libations–serves unusual fare including wild boar, rattlesnake, and kangaroo. Weird, yes, but undeniably exciting.

    6. Manhattan, KS

    Downtown_Manhattan_Kansas

    Yes, we’re starting to sense a trend here, too. By that we mean that, like Chapel Hill and Lancaster, Manhattan–”The Little Apple”–is also a college town. In this case, that college is Kansas State University. Again, this translates to a large population of 20- to 34-somethings (43 percent, placing it third for that criterion) and plenty of nightlife (enough to get it ranked 15th).

    A good chunk of that is centered in and around “Aggieville,” the city’s main cultural hub and an area that also hosts Manhattan’s mock-holiday, Fake Patty’s Day, which occurs just before the real deal each year. Local bars, like Aggieville hotspot the So Long Saloon, get in on the excitement, while more sane-minded folks can be found elsewhere in the city enjoying sober fun at places like the Sunset Zoo.

    7. Lakewood, OH

    lakewood ohio

    Resident Ohio native David Cross (of awesome lists about Columbus fame) says he can attest to Lakewood’s eligibility for our top 10. The numbers say that, out of all the criteria we measured, this Cleveland suburb ranked highest for things related to active life. This isn’t really surprising when you consider all of the things to do on and around Lake Erie. Things like the Lakewood Park and the Rocky River Reservation.

    In the town proper, there’s a pretty happening (does the 20 to 34 crowd, 24 percent of Lakewood, even say that?) nightlife scene along Madison and Detroit Avenues. There are even places lauded for their dual specialisation in grub and brews, such as Melt (with its deep fried sandwiches) and and Buckeye Beer Engine, which is renowned in the area for its burgers. Best of all, they aren’t chains; only 7 percent of restaurants in Lakewood are, which is something to be excited about.

    8. Royal Oak, MI

    Downtown_Royal_Oak

    We can’t say we’re too surprised to see Royal Oak in our top 10. After all, the city was ranked No. 7 on our list of the best places in Michigan. In terms of this ranking, however, it had to rank according to a very different set of criteria. In those, it did best when it came to young residents,where it placed 17th overall with 28 percent of its people being ages 20 to 34.

    Like the other nine most exciting small cities, Royal Oak essentially did quite well across the board, with places like LUNA to bolster the nightlife score (27th), the Red Coat tavern on non-fast food eating (29th), and active life (29th) represented by the Detroit Zoo, which is located within the city’s borders.

    9. San Marcos, TX

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    When it comes to the excitement generated by a young, active population, our top 10 has no better representative than San Marcos, home to Texas State University. This place ranked second in both active lifestyle options and 20-34 population, which currently stands at 44 percent.

    “San Marvelous,” as it’s nicknamed, offers lots of reasons to get outdoors, such as the Meadows Center Glass-bottom Boat Tours and a chance to go spelunking (technically indoors) in the Wonder World caves. From caverns to taverns, nightlife in San Marcos is headline by the likes of the Tap Room, Zelicks Icehouse, and the Triple Crown.

    10. Sarasota, FL

    sarasota

    Last–but in no way least–we have Sarasota, which was the exact opposite of last in a couple of key categories, namely live music and nightlife where it placed first overall. The latter category is bolstered by more than a hundred bars, including Cock & Bull and Shakespeare’s, and nightclubs the likes of Ivory Lounge.

    Active life options was another standout at seventh overall, helped in no small way by numerous beaches, while its ninth place finish in non-fast food eateries was thanks to places like Amish (yes, Amish) restaurant Yoder’s and the Cuban fare at Columbia. Just don’t to see as many 20-34-year-olds in these places; the city placed 88th overall for that criterion.

    Small Cities, Big Fun

    Hopefully by now you’ve gotten the gist–you don’t have to be a big city to be an exciting city. There’s just so much they have to offer those seeking active lifestyles with lots to do at all hours (and plenty of folks to do things with). None do this better than Hoboken, though, so if it’s an exciting small city you’re after, that’s the place to start. Just don’t expect to get much sleep.

    most exciting small cities table

     

    SEE ALSO: 11 Unusual Homes You Can Buy Right Now

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