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Roanoke, Virginia Area Attracts College Students

What region has the most undergraduate college students per capita?

The Research Triangle? Boston-Cambridge? Austin? San Francisco Bay?

Try again.

Within an hour’s drive of the Roanoke, Virginia region are nearly 90,000 undergraduate students at 21 institutions of higher learning, from renowned liberal arts colleges to Virginia Tech, the state’s largest research university.

With a total population an hour in any direction from downtown Roanoke of more than 833,000, that means a per-capital undergraduate college student ratio of 0.108.

By comparison, the San Francisco Bay comes in at 0.060, with the Research Triangle at 0.057 and Boston-Cambridge and Austin tied at 0.049 (see box below).

The Roanoke region is surrounded by some of Virginia’s, and the nation’s, most recognized colleges and universities, including two law schools, a school of osteopathic medicine and a new medical school. While many people from the region choose the local colleges and universities for higher education, these institutions also attract diverse student populations from around the United States and the world.

When they’re here, college students enjoy some of the benefits that attract businesses and visitors to the Roanoke region – including easy access to the outdoors, a vibrant arts scene and sporting events.

2009 Population Estimate
Number of Undergrads
Number Per Capita

Greater Roanoke Region

833,387 89,873 0.108
San Francisco-Oakland 4,302,282 259,045 0.060
Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill 1,589,073 90,278 0.057
Greensboro-High Point-Winston-Salem 1,185,589 66,240 0.056
Austin 1,659,847 82,345 0.049
Boston-Cambridge 4,495,827 223,986 0.049
Richmond 1,230,605 57,425 0.047


In addition to Virginia Tech, the greater region’s colleges include:
Central Virginia Community College
Dabney S. Lancaster Community College
Edward Via Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine
Ferrum College
Hollins University
Jefferson College of Health Sciences
Liberty University
Lynchburg College
National College
New River Community College
Patrick Henry Community College
Radford University
Randolph College
Roanoke College
Skyline College
Southern Virginia University
Virginia Military Institute
Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine
Virginia Western Community College
Washington & Lee University

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