This article is the third
in a series featuring the top five cities for students around the globe in
2012, determined by QS.
A number of factors were considered in the organization’s ranking, including
educational institutions, quality of living, affordability and employer
activity. Boston came in third.
Boston, Massachusetts -- affectionately called
Beantown -- is the unofficial student capital of the United States, with the
greater Boston area containing some of the most distinguished universities in
the world, including Harvard and the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology (MIT). With their renown attracting some of the brightest students from
around the globe, the heart of New England is young, energetic and bustling. But
the historic city has tranquil pockets as well, with quiet corners and ample green
spaces. About 20% of students are international,
and more than 500 international employers are present and hiring within Boston
– substantially more than the other top-ranked student cities -- offering
attractive post-graduate prospects within the city.
The Fenway area --
home of the Boston Red Sox baseball team -- attracts students from nearby Boston College (BC) and Boston University (BU). On game days, the neighbourhood’s numerous sports bars, such as Jerry Remy’s, Who’s on First and the cavernous, bowling alley-filled Jillian’s, are packed with college students fraternising over beers.
Located in Cambridge, a neighbourhood across
the Charles River from downtown Boston, the Harvard Square area is a popular gathering
spot for Harvard and MIT students, with several restaurants serving up affordable,
tasty grub. Favourite choices include burritos at Felipe’s, burgers at Mr Bartley’s, frozen yogurt at BerryLine and steaming slices at Pinnochio’s Pizza and Subs (locally called “Noch’s”). College
kids also fill the tables at Hong Kong, a hip restaurant, lounge and nightclub in Faneuil Hall and Daedalus, a gastropub in
Harvard Square that has an attractive outdoor patio area.
The Cleveland Circle area, situated at the west
end of the city, is popular with BC students who flock to local cafes during
the day and head out to beloved dive bars like Mary Ann’s at night. In the Davis Square neighbourhood, spots
like the Burren pub serve a similar purpose for Tufts students. The Allston/Brighton area,
located in the city’s northwestern corner, is home to student-friendly establishments
such as Harry’s Bar and Grill, a
sports bar with weekly discount specials and Common Ground, a bar that often throws
‘90s nights and Millennium parties.
Boston’s most anticipated college events are the universities’ annual music
festivals – like Yardfest at Harvard and Spring Fling at Tufts University -- during which big-name
headliners perform free concerts before the spring semester ends. Many Harvard activities,
including trivia and karaoke nights, take place at Queen’s Head Pub, a student-run campus watering hole that is cheaper than most bars in
of the greatest advantages of living in a city with a sizable student population
is the chance to appreciate the many talents, projects and extracurricular
activities at other universities. The Berklee
College of Music, which attracts top international talent and counts the band Passion Pit among its alumni, often organises free student performances in such
picture-perfect locations as the Boston Harbor National Park. The free-to-watch boating regattas on the
Charles River are also well-attended on fair-weather race days, when students cheer
on their classmates, with Boston College students making a strong showing. The
river is also the site of the world’s largest two-day rowing event, Head of the Charles Regatta, which takes place every October.
of Boston’s universities regularly bring eminent speakers to their campuses. One
ongoing series is Harvard Thinks Big, reminiscent of the famous TED
talks series but featuring Harvard professors. Such events are generally
advertised around college campuses or listed on university websites.
The Museum of Fine Arts, one of Boston’s leading cultural
institutions, is free for students carrying ID from one of the many schools in
the city and the museum’s special exhibits and film screenings are discounted for
The historic Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and the New England Aquarium offer discounts for all university students, while
admission to Harvard’s museums -- of which the Harvard Museum of Natural History is a stand-out -- is free for Harvard students
and discounted for all other college kids. Even movie theatres like Regal Cinemas Fenway and AMC Loews Boston Common cut students a discount.
During the warmer months of May to September, many students head to the serene
beaches of Cape Cod, Massachusetts and coastal Newport, Rhode Island. Cape Cod,
located about 70 miles southeast of the city, can be reached by ferry or bus,
and Newport, located the same distance south, has coaches from Boston.
A common day trip around Halloween, 31 October,
is to travel the 18 miles north from Boston to Salem, Massachusetts, which was
the site of a massive witch hunt and subsequent trials in the 1600s and is
usually especially decked out for the holiday. For outdoor enthusiasts or literature
buffs, Walden Pond is also worth a stop. Located one
mile from the Concord train station, about 20 miles from Boston, it is
the site of famed author Henry David Thoreau’s temporary self-exile and experiment
in simple living, which was documented in his iconic work Walden. Boston also
has a number of ski resorts within a few hours of the city including Mount Sunapee,
Wachusett Mountain Ski Area and Blue Hills Ski Area, and some universities
such as Brandeis and Boston College organise
shuttles that take students to the Wrentham outlets for a day of discounted shopping.
Travelling on a budget
Boston’s metro system, called the T, is fairly convenient, though there are
pockets of the city like South Boston where coverage is sparse. Most of the city’s universities offer discounted monthly or semester-long
passes for students who anticipate crisscrossing the city regularly.
A favoured mode of transport among all college students
is cycling, and those without wheels of their own can take advantage of Boston’s
new pay-as-you-go bike sharing program, Hubway.
Owning a car in the city is difficult since parking is pricey and difficult to
find, but many universities have formed discount partnerships with ZipCar, a convenient car rental program aimed at
those who want to get out of the city for a short break or transport their
groceries from the supermarket.