Most Educated American Cities

College towns and lily white enclaves top the list of best educated cities.

College towns and lily white enclaves top the list of best educated cities.

Reuters (“Madison, Wisconsin ranked as best educated city in U.S.“):

Los Angeles is the entertainment capital of the United States and New York is the financial hub but Madison, Wisconsin gets the highest marks as the most educated American city.

The midwestern metropolis, which Men’s Health magazine described as the city “where the average household has more degrees than a thermometer” edged past Plano, Texas and Raleigh, North Carolina to score the highest grades in magazine’s ranking of the 100 cities with the best educated population.

Burlington, Vermont and Seattle rounded out the top five, while Las Vegas, Cleveland and Miami were the least erudite.

“It is all about education there,” said David Zinczenko, editor-in-chief of Men’s Health and editorial director of Women’s Health, about Madison. He added that the city has a large population of students, unemployment is low compared to the national average of 9.3 percent and it has good businesses, including biotech and medical supply companies. ”Cities with thriving, interesting businesses have people living intellectual lives,” he explained in an interview.

The magazine compiled the list by looking at the high school graduation rates of the cities, as well as U.S. Census figures on school enrollment and the education levels of people over 25 years old. It also researched the number of households with student loans and people taking adult education courses.

Weather seemed to have had no impact on the rankings with balmy San Diego and Honolulu and bitterly cold Fargo, North Dakota and Portland, Maine making the top 10, along with Lincoln, Nebraska.

Despite being the political center of the nation, Washington D.C. scored 34th in the rankings, just behind Little Rock, Arkansas but ahead of Jersey City, New Jersey.

Surely, “thriving, interesting businesses” are not the reason Madison, Plano, and Fargo top Miami, Los Angeles, and New York. Rather, the former are either college towns, affluent bedroom communities of more diverse cities, or both.

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James Joyner
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  1. Tano says:

    There are several of these surveys out there with wildly different results. Personally, I havent the interest in delving into their methodolgies. but fwiw:

    US News and World Report lists Boulder, CO, Ann Arbor MI, and Wash DC-Arlington-Alexandria in the top three.

    Forbes also has Boulder, Ann Arbor, and then Charlottesville VA

    CNN Money has Arlington, VA, Davis CA, and Brookline, MA in the top 3.

    CBS news has it Metro DC, Bridgeport CT, then San Jose, CA.

  2. JKB says:

    Well, to be fair, by their criteria the ranking is most credentialed. Educated would require bit more testing. Intellectual really isn’t in evidence given recent news from Madison.

    But Madison is #2 in the most fast food consumption.

    In fact the list is interesting:

    Here we include the list in order of the 10 cities that spend more money on fast food:

    1.Plano, Texas
    2.Madison, Wisconsin
    3. Wichita, Kansas
    4. Akron, Ohio
    5. Fort Wayne, Indiana
    6. Kansas City, Montana
    7. Chandler, Arizona
    8. Raleigh, North Carolina
    9. Baton Rouge, Louisiana
    10. Omaha, Nebraska

  3. Tsar Nicholas says:

    If by “educated” they actually meant to say largely unemployable in the current age, mostly consigned to living with mommy and daddy at least until age 30, and earmarked to struggle paying off their student loans until age 50 and beyond, then that article might have had some merit other than its ironic and comedic value.

    In the new, new economy the schools of hard knocks will trump the schools of big thinking. Hiring managers know this. Recruiters know this. Business executives know this.

    For a particular community its costs of living and its local tax structures and business regulations will trump local levels of book learning. Successful companies and successful people had figured that out even before things went to hell in a hand basket.

    The vast swaths of unemployed twenty-somethings out there, well, they’re in the process of learning all of these points: the hard way. The media and the academe, unfortunately, still largely are insouciant; disconnected from reality.

  4. WR says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: Shorter Tsar: “Education is bad! Stupid is good!”

  5. john personna says:

    The article below hits many of my themes on non-traditional education, net-learning, and jobs:

    Do It Yourself: Creating a Producer Society

    In that sense, “educated cities” is kind of a quaint concept.

  6. An Interested Party says:

    College towns and lily white enclaves top the list of best educated cities.

    Something that should warm Superdestroyer’s pale heart…

  7. superdestroyer says:

    @An Interested Party:

    Those enclaves of smart whites are usually very progressives and islands of blue surround by red. It is very easy for those 20 something’s to be very progressives because they do not face any of the downsides of diversity. Those 20 progressives live in very white areas with low crime and in an area where one can survive as a white without a six-figure income.

    What is very intersting is finding all of the holder of masters degrees in urban planning, education, public administration who would rather live in madison Wisconson or Burlington , VT rather than move to some place that can really use urban planning like Detroit, East St Louis, or El Paso Texas.