Last night I needed to save some cash in my large, self-sustaining, city after building a brand new University. Looking through the options of what to turn off, I decided to turn off my high school and community college, just leaving my grade schools as the other education options. My cities tech level continued to advance, rapidly in fact, and all my industries started upgrading. My education level also rose significantly after the first day of university classes.

With that in mind, once you have a University, can you safely turn off or demolish your high school and community college to save funds? Is there a downside to doing this?

  • I haven't played the game yet, but how can an University be a replacement for a High School? Community College maybe... If you run into money issues you might have started to built the University to soon. Commented Mar 8, 2013 at 22:02
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    The money issues were only temporary. Once the tech level kicked in, basically every factory in town started upgrading at the same time. During that time, you do not get tax revenue from them (which is silly, if you ask me, as they still own property and should pay tax). This put me in the red pretty hard, so I decided to temporarily disable some things. Since there did not seem to be ill-effects I left them that way.
    – Tater596
    Commented Mar 8, 2013 at 22:04
  • As to why a high school could be safely disabled, that is what I want to find out. The community college makes sense, but shouldn't sims need to graduate high school to go to college? It appears that is NOT the case.
    – Tater596
    Commented Mar 8, 2013 at 22:05
  • 2
    Man, I miss graphs in SimCity. You'd think this would be easy to figure out by opening up an Education and tech level graph and seeing which way it moves, but nope. No graphs for anything.
    – RotBot
    Commented Mar 8, 2013 at 23:29
  • You can get rid of the community college once you have a university.
    – kalina
    Commented Mar 14, 2013 at 16:08

4 Answers 4


Yes you can!

You can potentially turn off all other education buildings after building a university - all education buildings convert kids into students and subsequently enrol that student, however each education building provides a different level of education and influences the tech level of your industry.

Thus, I present to you Arcadia!


Here is how I came to my conclusion - I was previously of the opinion that 'students' and 'kids' were separate agents and being unable to find anything solid to confirm it either way, so I figured it was time for science!

If you are not reaching the maximum number of students enrolled, it will like be down to one of the following reasons;

  • Not enough capacity
  • Not enough coverage
  • Traffic

Universities provide the highest level of education and the biggest boost to your industry (to tech level 3), but relies on your city's mass transit system and road network to allow your students to get to it. School buses will not drop students off at university. A university also allows you to research projects to create great works for your region and provide upgrades for your buildings.

A community college provides many of the educational benefits of a university and is smaller in size, but doesn't provide the same amount of improvement to your industry (to tech level 2 only).

If you have a university in your city, you should consider shutting down your community college, provided your road network and mass transit can handle it your university will have no problems teaching the students from your college.

Grade schools and high schools are basically the same building but with different capacities. Each provides its own transit system that can pick up students but provides a lower level of education than a university or community college.

You do not need a grade school or a high school, but it's worthwhile having at least one for the benefits that they provide as these schools will pick up the kids in your city to keep them off the streets, reduce crime, pollution, trash and energy consumption while providing a bonus to the amount your sims recycle.

As for getting the maximum tech level and maximum education level just with a university? It's not impossible. In many of my screenshots above you can see that I'm at tech level 3 with just a university, but the overall education level hovered at around 3 out of 5. I didn't get an education level higher than 4 during any of my testing with universities so this leads me to believe that either not enough time was given to allow the education level to rise to maximum (the oldest city I used during testing had only got to year 3) or that it isn't possible to get the maximum education level with just a university.

One of the main challenges I faced while trying to build a comprehensive education system that enrolled all students was transport, sending out fleets of buses would gridlock my road network during school hours. One tip I have for this as a result of my testing is that all a school bus will drop off students at another school of the same type, regardless of whether that bus originated from that school.

A few things I noticed while testing

I noticed that the value for the number of students being taught on the university overview is another number that doesn't tally up with the education overview;

University overview

This city has never had a grade school, high school, public library or community college - the only source of education has been via the University.

A university is also able to teach in excess of the maximum number of students that can be in class at once;

Teaching 3646 students, but only 3300 in class at once

I noticed that during the initial growth of the city, the number of sims enrolled would lag behind the spurts in growth in that large portions of the population were not enrolled;

March - Year 1

A few months later and you start to see your overall education level rise. As the population increase begins to plateau the number of enrolled students catches up to the total number of students available, although I still haven't seen the number of enrolled students at 100% at this point;

June - Year 1

By this point, I am noticing that I'm getting a fair quantity of "Too many injuries - moving!" - which is usually a sign of low education, however my overall education level is still increasing, and my industry tech level has already reached 3.

In addition, I am still seeing a specific group of sims that are not enrolled into my education system. In the following two screenshots, you will see Kids represented by purple bars (which is actually shown on the data layer as not enrolled) and Students represented by green bars (which also means enrolled);

Datalayer showing Kids

In all instances, the purple bars identify themselves as X Kids, while the green bars identify themselves as X Students;

Datalayer showing Students

When the university is in use, it is populated by students. With this in mind, I plopped down a high school - the next morning the education data layer showed no instances of people not being enrolled while the total number of students enrolled wasn't at 100%;

Kids waiting at bus stops represented by blue bars

In the above screenshot, you can see a new set of 'blue' bars - these bars represent kids/students waiting at school bus stops. In this instance, all of the kids have relocated to waiting at the bus stops for their high school buses (note that universities do not have a dedicated transit service).

Shortly after placing the High School my city went through a sudden population growth phase which increased the number of kids in the city. With all of the additional kids in the city I was able to see a pattern. Outside of school hours my education data layer would look like this;

Education data layer outside of school hours

Then, once the school buses had started picking the kids up for school, which is shortly after the school opens at 6am, my city's education data layer would look like this;

Education data layer during school hours

During this, my number of students enrolled did not noticeably fluctuate, and neither did the number of students being taught at my university, however the number of kids in the city had reduced and were arriving at the high school.

To mitigate the traffic problems I was having, I made a new city to test with. In this city I built a road network that didn't suffer from the same traffic problems - I found that my overall enrolment reached 100% quite quickly. Even at 100%, looking at the education data layer showed un-enrolled sims;

Education data layer in a city with better roads

Like before, these were all kids, and adding a high school to the city would get them off the streets and show no un-enrolled sims on the education data layer.

For an additional test, I built a city that only had a high school to try and work out exactly what effects a high school has;

high school city before 6am

Again the purple bars when you hover over them show up as kids in all instances. After 6am the fleet of school buses set off, and pick up all of the kids from the various bus stops, and the education data layer shows this;

high school city after 6am

In every instance of a bus picking up a kid form their home, that kid turned into a student upon arrival at the high school.

For further testing I destroyed the high school and left the city until the number of students enrolled had reduced back to zero and then built a grade school in the same location that the high school previously resided;

Grade school after destroying the high school

However after the fleet of school buses went out at 6am, the results were pretty conclusive in that enrolment increased to the point where the grade school was full;

Grade school at maximum capacity

The grade school was already fully upgraded so it was not possible to increase the capacity further so I added enough additional grade schools to cater for the maximum number of potential students that could enrol and waited until the next day. While this still didn't result in reaching the maximum possible number of students (due to a localised capacity issue) I am confident it would be possible to get 100% of all students enrolled using just grade schools;

One grade school stubbornly remained empty

In order to do so though, required a new city - one of the main problems I've faced trying to get 100% enrolment in large cities is that school buses clog up your road network quite easily if you're trying to fetch all your students from one centralised location. In this city I placed four grade schools, one in each corner;

City with four grade schools

  • This is a little counter intuitive, but perhaps you should try a smaller sample size? Beyond a certain population, the game starts to report a higher population than is actually represented. I think that might be the cause of your "students, but not enrolled" Commented Mar 14, 2013 at 23:26
  • The university was the first building built - some of the screenshots at the top were from when the population was ~4000 and still show unenrolled students. I am going to start another new test region anyway as there is something else I wanted to test since for whatever reason I can't get 100% enrolment in this city no matter what I try...
    – kalina
    Commented Mar 14, 2013 at 23:37
  • Could some of the numbers above also include the staff required to run the university. One data is showing you enrollment, while the other is actually showing population for that building. That would explain why the values are always higher.
    – Reactgular
    Commented Mar 15, 2013 at 2:34
  • the metrics on the education layer are green = enrolled, purple = not enrolled. I do not think staff would be classified as students as it is possible for an education facility to be understaffed while still being at maximum capacity
    – kalina
    Commented Mar 15, 2013 at 9:33
  • @DavidB yes - they are in the blue bus stop bars - I will edit this in for clarity, but as demonstrated in one of the later screenshots having 100% enrolment still shows kids on the education data layer. Grade schools do not remove kids from the data layer, only a high school does. I haven't confirmed whether high schools turn kids into students
    – kalina
    Commented Mar 15, 2013 at 14:11

I'm updating/changing my answer to reflect that there much better general understanding of how the game/glassbox engine works (basically sims are as smart as the sim poo in all of the promo videos).

Simcity 2013 is much more (than previous SimCity versions) about going back and upgrading old buildings (either with plopables or by bulldozing and replacing) with larger/more efficient buildings.

Education Upgrades:

  • w/o dept of education: elementary school (max 950) -> college (800 students req'd)
  • w/ dept of education: high school (max ???) -> university (1200 students req'd)

So an upgrade path could look like:

elementary school -> (dept of ed) -> replace w/ high school -> (1200 students) -> university

It looks like, in this game, that a student is a student; in that just require education and that they don't have to progress though the grades. Anecdotally, I was able to get my industrial city to 4/5 education with only an elementary school before it starting dropping because of capacity issues.

If you look at the in-game help (blue icon next to the advisor) that the benefit of lower crime, etc is because of being educated sims and there's nothing special about High Schools. Also note the tech level increases from college/univ radiate out from the buildings and will cover your entire city over time so I don't see difference between these two buildings other than cost.

once you have a University, can you safely turn off or demolish your high school and community college to save funds? Is there a downside to doing this?

Short answer yes and long answer maybe.

Yes because a student is a student.

Long answer is that students will go to elementary schools / high schools via the school bus and go to college / university via mass transit (city bus/trams) or cars. So you will have to consider:

  • can your city support the mass of traffic this will create?
  • you will need to remove the school bus stops or another city might 'steal' your students
  • can you handle the loss of land value from removing the smaller schools

imho you can save a ton of money by turning off the expansions

  • You want the other schools to increase the land value for the respected classes of residential and industrial. You can disable it for awhile to save money but its unlikely you get the bonuses if they are disabled.
    – Ramhound
    Commented Mar 9, 2013 at 13:54
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    This doesn't really answer the nub of the question though: Does the "highest grade of education", as provided by a university, replace all the lower levels? In reality of course it does not, you need the high school and the university. But is that the case in the world of SimCity? The high school description reads "Educated Sims recycle, pollute less and cause less fires", but is does the benefit come exclusively from the high school, or does the university also provide it? Perhaps the education bonuses are additive... We need numbers people! DATA!
    – Ian
    Commented Mar 11, 2013 at 16:33
  • @Ian - Exactly. I want to know if, theoretically, one could build a university and be done.
    – Tater596
    Commented Mar 12, 2013 at 19:57
  • 1
    @Tater595 I didn't like my answer came back to rewrite it. I was giving Maxis way too much credit...
    – user43524
    Commented Mar 14, 2013 at 12:08
  • I see. There are several good answers here. I am going to have to think about who to award the bounty to.
    – Tater596
    Commented Mar 14, 2013 at 12:26

I don't find the other answers satisfactory so I'm going to add my two cents.

First let's talk about students. Just like how each residential building generates worker sim and shopper sim agents they also generate what are called student sims. The exact number of students in your city is available in the population infograph that pops up when you click on the population number in the bottom of the screen. They follow the same logic as other sims in that when they want something they will go to the closest instance of that thing.

Student sims are concerned with one thing only - going to school. They will attempt to go to an education building at some point during the day and return to the nearest residential building after the end of the school day (3pm I believe). They don't care if they attend a University, Community College, High School, or Grade School. Each student that returns to a residential building will deposit an "education point" to that building much like worker sims deposit "money points" and shopper sims deposit "happiness points" at the end of their respective days. Worker sims then take "education points" with them when they go to work at the start of the day (assuming they are going to an industry building) and deposit them at their place of work. This is the reason you see the "Educated" descriptor on residential and industrial buildings and is what industrial buildings are looking for when they complain about not having "skilled enough workers".

If a student sim has failed to attend school after the end of the school day they will get the "unenrolled" flag set on them and return to the nearest residential building. You can see the locations of all "educated" and "unenrolled" student sims by using the education data layer available from the education tab.

Now strictly speaking student sims will become "educated" from a University and Grade School just the same, but it's extremely important to note that sims that want to attend a University or Community College must either drive or take mass transit to their destination. This can introduce a very large strain on an already stressed mass transit system in a metropolitan city. Therefore it is still extremely beneficial to maintain High Schools even after constructing a university as it will allow your student sims to queue at designated student-only bus stops. You can think of the lower level education buildings as primarily a mass transit system for your student sims. A High School and a Grade School serve the same exact purpose save the fact that a High School is more space/upkeep efficient.

Having too many "unenrolled" students in your city will introduce major crime problems and lower the education level of your city. Each night "unenrolled" students generate criminals in your city (though I'm not sure the exact rate at which this happens).

So tl;dr: Yes you can safely demolish/turn off education buildings after constructing a university but make sure you keep tabs on your "unenrolled" students count from the education data layers and construct/turn back on schools to keep that number as low as possible.


I found that if I demolish my grade and high schools before getting my education up it is a lot harder to increase it all the way if not impossible. I had one city with 60k that had maxed education early had another city with 200k residents and couldn't get the education above 1-2.

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