The 10 Best College Towns In South Carolina For 2021


Editor's Note: We updated this article for 2021. This is our fourth time ranking the best college towns in South Carolina.
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Believe it or not, America has the best colleges in the world. It's been proven by data (and surveys) that the U.S. educational system is of the highest quality

It's actually not even close and South Carolina is home to a handful of them.

While we could debate which colleges within the are the 'best,' that's not the goal of this post.

Instead, ride along with us as we determine which college towns in South Carolina are the best.

You know, the type of places where there's energy and stimulation, but the type of place you can walk around at night. The happiest, chillest, most downright fun places where you can send your kids off to college where you won't break the bank, or worry about their well being.

Without further ado, here are the best college towns in South Carolina for 2021.

The 10 Best College Towns In South Carolina For 2021

  1. Clemson, SC
  2. Aiken, SC
  3. Gaffney, SC
  4. Rock Hill, SC
  5. Central, SC
  6. Charleston, SC
  7. Bluffton, SC
  8. Conway, SC
  9. Orangeburg, SC
  10. Columbia, SC

While some of these may not seem like a 'real' college town per se, when you look at the numbers, it's hard to argue against.

And for those who live in Clemson, Aiken and Gaffney - we tip our hats to you and we'll schedule a tour for next week. You can see where Clemson ranks in terms of the best college town in America.

Read on to find out more or for more on South Carolina check out:

The 10 Best College Towns In South Carolina For 2021

Clemson, SC
Overall SnackAbility
8
/10

Population: 15,966
% Undergrad Pop.: 88.1% (best)
Median Rent: $923 (13th best)
Unemployment Rate: 439.5% (3rd best)
Crime Rank: 2nd best
More on Clemson: Real Estate | Cost Of Living

Colleges: Clemson University

Aiken, SC
Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility
6
/10

Population: 30,464
% Undergrad Pop.: 10.3% (11th best)
Median Rent: $875 (10th best)
Unemployment Rate: 528.3% (4th best)
Crime Rank: 10th best
More on Aiken: Real Estate | Cost Of Living

Colleges: University of South Carolina-Aiken, Aiken School of Cosmetology and Barbering

Gaffney, SC
Overall SnackAbility
3
/10

Population: 12,526
% Undergrad Pop.: 15.7% (5th best)
Median Rent: $621 (best)
Unemployment Rate: 681.1% (9th best)
Crime Rank: 5th best
More on Gaffney: Real Estate | Cost Of Living | Crime Report

Colleges: Limestone College

Rock Hill, SC
Overall SnackAbility
5
/10

Population: 71,903
% Undergrad Pop.: 6.5% (13th best)
Median Rent: $928 (14th best)
Unemployment Rate: 680.7% (8th best)
Crime Rank: 7th best
More on Rock Hill: Real Estate | Cost Of Living | Crime Report

Colleges: Winthrop University, York Technical College, Kenneth Shuler School of Cosmetology-Rock Hill

Central, SC
Overall SnackAbility
6
/10

Population: 5,241
% Undergrad Pop.: 32.9% (3rd best)
Median Rent: $649 (2nd best)
Unemployment Rate: 594.7% (5th best)
Crime Rank: 4th best
More on Central: Real Estate | Cost Of Living | Crime Report

Colleges: Southern Wesleyan University

Charleston, SC
Overall SnackAbility
8
/10

Population: 133,762
% Undergrad Pop.: 10.8% (9th best)
Median Rent: $1,208 (16th best)
Unemployment Rate: 413.3% (2nd best)
Crime Rank: 3rd best
More on Charleston: Real Estate | Cost Of Living | Crime Report

Colleges: Trident Technical College, College of Charleston, Charleston Southern University

Bluffton, SC
Overall SnackAbility
8.5
/10

Population: 18,835
% Undergrad Pop.: 6.2% (14th best)
Median Rent: $1,571 (17th best)
Unemployment Rate: 311.9% (best)
Crime Rank: best
More on Bluffton: Real Estate | Cost Of Living | Crime Report

Colleges: University of South Carolina-Beaufort

Conway, SC
Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility
6
/10

Population: 22,661
% Undergrad Pop.: 19.4% (4th best)
Median Rent: $765 (9th best)
Unemployment Rate: 1034.1% (15th best)
Crime Rank: 6th best
More on Conway: Real Estate | Cost Of Living | Crime Report

Colleges: Coastal Carolina University, Horry-Georgetown Technical College, Miller-Motte Technical College-Conway

Orangeburg, SC
Overall SnackAbility
5
/10

Population: 13,120
% Undergrad Pop.: 36.3% (2nd best)
Median Rent: $689 (5th best)
Unemployment Rate: 1256.9% (16th best)
Crime Rank: 14th best
More on Orangeburg: Real Estate | Cost Of Living | Crime Report

Colleges: South Carolina State University, Orangeburg Calhoun Technical College, Claflin University

Columbia, SC
Overall SnackAbility
4
/10

Population: 133,352
% Undergrad Pop.: 15.5% (6th best)
Median Rent: $910 (12th best)
Unemployment Rate: 739.5% (10th best)
Crime Rank: 11th best
More on Columbia: Real Estate | Cost Of Living | Crime Report

Colleges: University of South Carolina-Columbia, Benedict College, Columbia College

How'd we figure out the best college towns in South Carolina?

To crunch our data on South Carolina's best college towns, we had to first decide which qualities (or rankings) make sense to use in the data, and then crunch the numbers for our rankings.

First off, we firmly decided that only cities with a 4 year college should make the cut -- so there has to be at least one college granting bachelors degrees in town.

You might be surprised to hear that there are only 15 places in South Carolina with an institution of higher learning with that criteria.

Source of data include OpenStreetMaps, the College Scorecard, the U.S. Census, and FBI reporting data to include the following factors:

  • Students Make Up Large % of the Population
  • College-specific Factors
    • Graduation rate
    • Tuition Cost
    • Student Body Diversity
  • Town Characteristics
    • Safety
    • Affordability
    • Income and Employment Opportunities
  • Things to Do
    • Bars
    • Museums & Libraries
    • Population Density

We ranked each city across each of the criteria, with one being the best.

We rolled up the individual scores into the category and ranked them again based on the category.

Finally, we took the average rank across each category, with the city posting the lowest overall score being crowned the winner of the title "Best College Town In South Carolina For 2021".

And it looks like Clemson placed Summa Cum Laude.

There You Have It -- The Best College Towns In The

If you're looking for the best college towns in South Carolina, you came to the right place.

These places all have great college sports programs, tons of stuff to do, and are great places to raise a family.

For more reading, check out:

15 Best College Towns In South Carolina

Rank City Population
1 Clemson, SC 15966
2 Aiken, SC 30464
3 Gaffney, SC 12526
4 Rock Hill, SC 71903
5 Central, SC 5241
6 Charleston, SC 133762
7 Bluffton, SC 18835
8 Conway, SC 22661
9 Orangeburg, SC 13120
10 Columbia, SC 133352
11 Clinton, SC 8508
12 Hartsville, SC 7658
13 Greenwood, SC 23230
14 Anderson, SC 27129
15 Newberry, SC 10289

Best College Towns By State

Enjoy The Snack?