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 John Kucko: Little Mill Creek in Wayland, NY

Alfred, NY is named the Ultimate College Town

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Washington Post awards Alfred #1 College Town in America

Known for being friendly and offering a warm welcome even in the winter, Alfred, NY is ranked number one in a February 2023 nationwide survey to earn the nickname College Town USA for the home of Alfred State College and Alfred University.

Data analysis by Washington Post Reporter Andrew Van Dam defined the Ultimate College Town by ranking US Census Urban Areas with the largest share of college students. Urban Areas follow population-density patterns, not municipal borders.

Alfred is No. 1 by a wide margin. Winning the number one national ranking for the Ultimate College Town proves that Alfred’s picture-perfect environment away from big city worries stands out among all other university and college towns in the country. Van Dam called Alfred “the collegiest” a term he coined.

Van Dam describes Alfred as a village wedged into Western New York’s hills that is home to both a public and private school, Alfred State College and Alfred University. As noted in the Washington Post, “Students make up an astonishing 85 percent of the town’s population… If you go left at the town’s only stoplight, you’re on one campus. Turn right, you’re on the other. Now that’s a college town.”

Alfred is at the center of the US Northeast. Located along the I-86 freeway, Alfred is a convenient and attractive college town for students from a wide region and around the world. According to NASA’s Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC), there are 104,464,746 people within 350 miles of Alfred. That amounts to approximately one-third of the US population.

Students across New York and from many states choose Alfred to take advantage of a caring academic community, enjoy low student-to-faculty ratios for personal attention, and be part of something special.

Don’t miss a stop at the Rosebush when in Alfred NY. Tap to connect on Facebook with this mightly good, little restaurant

Alfred State College (ASC) President Dr. Steven Mauro said, “Living in the Ultimate College Town gives you access to both beautiful campuses and a supportive tight-knit community, including world-class faculty who judge their achievements by how students succeed at launching their careers. With students making up 85 percent of all residents in our village, you know we are student-centered. Great ideas and innovations are shared across Main Street, many alumni met their spouses at the sister school, and everyone benefits from the wealth of recreation to share fun, fitness, and fellowship in such a friendly environment.”

Alfred University (AU) President Dr. Mark Zupan said, “While there is only one traffic light in Alfred, there are plentiful and potent intersections that benefit faculty, students, and staff—including those offered by our sister school, Alfred State College, and the friendly surrounding village. Set in a safe, bucolic valley in the Finger Lakes region of New York, our students make bold discoveries by pursuing multiple pathways and integrating their interests. Alfred University’s purpose is to help our students identify and realize their purpose. The combination of our small size, wide range of programs, applied learning opportunities, and commitment to student engagement through mentoring allows Alfred University to be a talent incubator and socioeconomic development engine.”

Village of Alfred Mayor Becky Prophet said, “In this beautiful valley of Western New York, the word Alfred is applied to three communities that coalesce into a single multifaceted gem. The Village of Alfred, nestled between the two schools, makes an intersection and a gathering place for the valley.  There is nothing like the sum of the Alfreds anywhere in the US or, perhaps, in the world.  We are the most collegiate of all college towns.  We are an excellent place to grow up.  We are a fine place to raise a family.  But most of all, Alfred is the best place to combine daily life and learning.  In Alfred, we live to learn and learn to live for all of our lives.”

Top 25 Ultimate College Towns

Nat’l RankUS Census Urban AreasStateStudent SharePopulationHigher Education Institutions
1AlfredNY84.6%4,500SUNY Alfred State College & Alfred University
2Prairie ViewTX77.8%6,161Prairie View A&M University
3Slippery RockPA67.3%6,550Slippery Rock University
4CedarvilleOH67.0%4,204Cedarville University
5OxfordOH62.3%22,933Miami University of Ohio
6Air Force Acad.CO59.9%2,833United States Air Force Academy
7PotsdamNY59.8%8,337SUNY Potsdam and Clarkson University
8HamiltonNY59.7%3,863Colgate University
9GeneseoNY58.8%8,288SUNY Geneseo
10AthensOH55.9%27,450Ohio University
11BooneNC54.8%22,323Appalachian State University
12DelhiNY54.8%3,046SUNY Delhi
13MiddleburyVT54.6%5,563Middlebury College
14KutztownPA52.2%8,859Kutztown University of Pennsylvania
15WhitewaterWI51.6%14,346University of Wisconsin, Whitewater
16PullmanWA51.1%32,940Washington State University
17RaymondMS50.9%2,689Hinds Community College
18CantonNY49.5%7,041SUNY Canton and St. Lawrence University
19AdaOH48.0%5,137Ohio Northern University
20DahlonegaGA47.8%5,588University of North Georgia
21CullowheeNC47.8%10,363Western Carolina University
22CazenoviaNY46.1%2,860Cazenovia College
23IthacaNY45.9%56,833Cornell University and Ithaca College
24New ConcordOH45.1%2,836Muskingum University
25LexingtonVA43.8%9,435Washington & Lee U and Virginia Military Inst.

New York State is home to the most and highest-ranked Ultimate College Towns. The Washington Post report on Ultimate College Towns shows that New York has a greater number of towns than any other state where students are more than half the local population. Five towns with the 50+ percent honor are in New York. Ohio has three such college towns and Pennsylvania has two. Fifteen out of the top 150 ranked college towns are in New York State. Number one is the college town of Alfred, home of Alfred State College and Alfred University.

State University of New York (SUNY) institutions and private schools are represented in the New York list. SUNY originally coordinated all 64 locations for colleges and universities so that 93 percent of New Yorkers live within 15 miles of a higher education provider, and nearly 100 percent live within 30 miles. Colleges outside cities are near an abundance of outdoor recreation to offer college students a great place to learn, grow, seek their purpose in life, and focus on building skills for a successful future.   

New York’s Ultimate College Towns

Nat’l RankUS Census Urban AreasStateStudent SharePopulationHigher Education Institutions
1AlfredNY84.60%4,500SUNY Alfred State College & Alfred University
7PotsdamNY59.80%8,337SUNY Potsdam and Clarkson University 
8HamiltonNY59.70%3,863Colgate University
9GeneseoNY58.80%8,288SUNY Geneseo
12DelhiNY54.80%3,046SUNY Delhi
18CantonNY49.50%7,041SUNY Canton and St. Lawrence University
22CazenoviaNY46.10%2,860Cazenovia College
23IthacaNY45.90%56,833Cornell University and Ithaca College
61OneontaNY33.20%16,369SUNY Oneonta
80West PointNY29.30%11,824West Point Academy
88CobleskillNY21.50%5,184SUNY Cobleskill
97Red HookNY26.90%6,034Bard College
129DrydenNY21.90%3,623SUNY Tompkins Cortland CC
135BrockportNY21.20%18,009SUNY Brockport
150CortlandNY20.30%26,325SUNY Cortland

Additional information is available from ASC at AlfredState.edu/college-town-USA,  AlfredState.edu/where-is-Alfred, and AU at Alfred.edu. The full list of Ultimate College Town rankings by the Washington Post is based on US Census Urban Area Data. NASA’s Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) is the source of information regarding the 104 million people surrounding Alfred.

Caption for print/web photo Alfred’s Stoplight: Picture-perfect and award-winning, Alfred, NY is the number one Ultimate College Town in the US. Turn right at the village’s only stoplight to enter Alfred State College or turn left for Alfred University.

Caption for additional photo Alfred Parades: Alfred, NY is now named the Ultimate US College Town. Students from Alfred University and Alfred State College come together on Main Street for activities including Hot Dog Day which started in 1972.

Village of Alfred History, by Mayor Becky Prophet

Alfred, the village, has been a town centered on education since 1836.  By 1856, the small school had become Alfred University.  Alfred University, founded as a co-educational place of learning that embraced diversity with persons of both sexes and all races sharing classes and a full curriculum was a college imbued with the powerful progressive values of the mid-19th century.  Faculty and students hosted Frederick Douglass and leaders of the Women’s Suffrage movement.  In 1900 with the creation of the New York State School of Clay Working at Alfred, the University added ceramic art and engineering colleges to the institution.  In 1908, the creation of an agriculture program and later the School for American Craftsmen expanded the educational opportunities for prospective students.  Alfred State College was spun off from the University in 1948 with the founding of the State University of New York (SUNY) system, to become an energetic school with programs originally based on agricultural, vocational, and technical education.  Both institutions of higher education have grown in the variety of programs.  Students, teachers, researchers, and makers from all over the US and much of the world find their way to Alfred. Many stay, making the Village as diverse as the colleges. 

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