New Study Reveals The Least, Most Educated States In The Country

A good education can be a bridge between you and a better future. With a college degree, your chances of good opportunities significantly increase. Not only that, but you will see higher pay as well. Wallet Hub recently released an extensive study detailing the most and least educated states in the country. Their findings are significant because the type of education you receive matters a great deal as well. Wallet Hub compared all states across 20 total metrics which fell into two categories: educational attainment and quality of education. Here are the results.

Least Educated – West Virginia

WVU campus
Twitter/gerwigjames
Twitter/gerwigjames

In 2018, West Virginia was the least educated state in America. That’s a lot to take in for the folks that reside there. At the time, only about one in five adults held a bachelor’s degree. This year, the state improved.

West Virginia is now the second to last least educated region in the nation. They say that slow motion is better than no motion, so jumping up one spot is something to be cheerful about at the least.

Least Educated – Louisiana

Jackson Square park, with horse and carts awaiting riders,French Quarter, New Orleans, Louisiana
Phil Clarke Hill / Contributor
Phil Clarke Hill / Contributor

For Louisiana, there’s more to it than the quality of education or education attainment ranking. The issues of why it ranks so low are deeply rooted in the system of the state. A professor at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette helped break it down.

“To stop this brain drain, Louisiana must pay its teachers better and provide better working conditions,” Fossey told Wallet Hub. “If you compare a typical Texas high school with a Louisiana high school, the contrast is shocking. Texas schools are modern, clean, and well-maintained. Louisiana schools are dilapidated in many communities.”

Least Educated – Mississippi

Mississippi coast
Pinterest/thecrazytourist
Pinterest/thecrazytourist

It only took two weeks for Gov. Phil Bryant’s claim that Mississippi’s education system “is clearly better than it has ever been before” to be disproven. The state is ranked dead last. How can a governer become so confused?

Mississippi snagged last place thanks to their stupendously low performance in several important categories. Mississippi had the highest gender gap in educational achievement in the country. They also only had 21.3% of people that have a bachelors degree.

Least Educated – Alabama

Mobile
Pinterest/dtmobile261
Pinterest/dtmobile261

Up next, we have Alabama. With a quality of education ranking of 44 and attainment of education at 45, these results can seem dumbfounding. At least, that’s how the local educators in the state feel.

“Funding is a large key when you’re dealing with education,” says Georgiana Principal Bryant Marlow. “When they start cutting that, then they definitely start cutting the success of our students.”Having enough money for students is always an important key to help build their knowledge.

Least Educated – Kentucky

colorful us map
Contributor/Getty Images
Contributor/Getty Images

With such great universities in Kentucky (University of Kentucky, Murray State, and University of Louisville), one wouldn’t imagine the state would be ranked so low. Unfortunately, they are, and it’s for a couple of reasons.

Wallet Hub reports that Kentucky is so low due to a large amount of non-high school diploma holders. They also have a surprisingly low rate of people who have bachelor degrees. There aren’t many other states that are lower than Kentucky.

Least Educated – Oklahoma

the university
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Oklahoma falls pretty low. Fewer than 30% of adults hold a bachelors degree, which is far less than the national share. Oklahoma received a total score of 34.43, which is only a smidge away from South Carolina (34.77).

Out of all the states, Oklahoma also rests at number 42 when it comes to median household income (the median is $49,767). The correlation between education and money is right in our face if you look at the statistics.

Least Educated – Nevada

nevada
Twitter/connorbane12
Twitter/connorbane12

Nevada is the home of Las Vegas, where what happens there stays there. Well, quality education isn’t happening too often. The state sits at 34, and it’s ranked 44th in educational attainment. That’s not anything to write home about.

Another interesting bit of information is that college graduates aren’t moving to Nevada. That’s due to the state’s unhealthy job market. In 2018, it had the sixth-highest unemployment rate in the nation. Something has to give, so this can be fixed.

Least Educated – South Carolina

USC gates
Pinterest/MarcioUSC
Pinterest/MarcioUSC

We hate to see it, but South Carolina sits pretty low on this ranking. It has a quality of education rank of 46 and an educational attainment ranking of 39. That’s enough to cause a scare for some parents, but it’s not so bad.

With a large share of South Carolinians working in manufacturing, that can explain why so few have a higher level of education. It’s not like there aren’t any great universities. There’s Clemson and the University of South Carolina, so there’s opportunity lingering.

Least Educated – Tennessee

university
Jonathan Daniel/Allsport
Jonathan Daniel/Allsport

Tennessee has the 44th lowest median household income in America, at $48,708. Tennessee’s total score comes out to 35.85, which is a far cry from the top place. From 2016 to 2017, this state did see an increase from 26.1% to 27.3% in adults who have a bachelor’s degree. That was one of the largest in any state.

With universities like Vanderbilt and the University of Tennessee, you can still get a quality education, it just isn’t the best of the best of all states.

Least Educated – Arkansas

Arkansas Razorbacks
Twitter/ScottEarhart6
Twitter/ScottEarhart6

The trend for the most educated schools was that the bulk of them was in the northeastern region of America. Now, we see that the least educated come from the southern states. For Arkansas, the state struggles with the number of kids obtaining their high school diploma.

“9th grade is critical in that. That’s a grade where students are going through a transition from middle school to high school, so we have to work hard as a high school to support our 9th graders in that transition,” said Dana Tabor, an Asst. Principal for Curriculum and Instruction for Pea Ridge High School.

Most Educated #10 – Washington

A general view of the Seattle Space Needle and downtown
Donald Miralle/Getty Images for Rock’n’Roll Marathon
Donald Miralle/Getty Images for Rock’n’Roll Marathon

Of the 7.5 million people that dwell in the state of Washington, more than 60% live in the Seattle metropolitan area. Washington also ranks 11th in median household income with $66,174. Tenth in most educated and 11th in wealth adds up.

The educational attainment for this state ranks ninth, while the quality of what is learned places 16th. With over 40 institutes of higher learning, we would agree that it’s safe for an aspiring college grad to voyage here.

Most Educated #9 – Utah

kid first day of school
kadenmusprime/Instagram
kadenmusprime/Instagram

Coming in with a total score of 64.53, Utah isn’t that far down on the list. Not only will you get an excellent education if you live there, but Utah also has the least income inequality of any state in America.

In Utah, you can find the University of Utah, Westminster College, and the University of Phoenix. Another unique stat is that Utah has the lowest racial gap in educational attainment. That’s something to tell the news about!

Most Educated #8 – Minnesota

posing
aselia_13/Instagram
aselia_13/Instagram

Not only is Minnesota one of the wealthiest states in America, but it ranks well in quality of education and educational attainment. It doesn’t have a vast disparity like a few other states we’ve mentioned so far.

A fact that should go a long way for parents is that the US Census Bureau reports that Minnesota has the second-highest proportion of high school graduates. If you’re raising a child in Minnesota, you can sleep easier at night knowing they’ll have a higher chance of getting their high school diploma.

Most Educated #7 – New Hampshire

student president
Dominic Chavez/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
Dominic Chavez/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Even with a pretty small population (1.35 million), New Hampshire still sits pretty high in the rankings. With over 80 public and 30 private high schools, you can rest assured that the kids are going into university ready for more knowledge.

New Hampshire is also home to one of the most prestigious schools, Dartmouth College. The state’s fifth ranking in educational attainment isn’t too bad either. But being number 20 in quality of education needs to change.

Most Educated #6 – Virginia

UVA campus
Win McNamee/Getty Images
Win McNamee/Getty Images

As if being in the top ten isn’t enough, Virginia has produced eight U.S. presidents. That’s more than any other state! Virginia’s educational attainment and quality of education rank ratios aren’t too bad, either. The former ranks 7th while the latter falls in at 9th.

The state also has over 176 colleges and universities pulsing through their streets! Of those places of higher learning includes are the University of Virginia and Virginia Tech. It sounds like there’s a school every five miles.

Most Educated #5 -Colorado

smiling
sylviabao1006/Instagram
sylviabao1006/Instagram

Ranking fifth in the most educated states in America is Colorado. While it might be number five, it’s only number two when it comes to educational attainment. Sadly, its quality of education drops to 31st.

Over the last 29 years, public school education has grown each year. The state hasn’t seen a drop in public school enrollments since the year the San Francisco 49ers won Super Bowl XXIII against the Bengals in 1989. That an impressive stat to throw around.

Most Educated #4 – Connecticut

downtown Hartford
Pinterest/ceratiliz
Pinterest/ceratiliz

Connecticut has a median household income of $74,781. That’s good for number seven in the nation which directly correlates to their high position on the most educated state’s list. Its overall score is 68.22, but the state is ranked fourth in educational attainment.

Connecticut’s most significant peril is that their quality of education is a tad low. Coming in at 17th overall, they could afford to improve that a bit and that could translate to boosting their ranking on this list.

Most Educated #3 – Vermont

Middlebury college graduation
YouTube/Middlebury College
YouTube/Middlebury College

If you pay close attention, then you’ll pick up on a pattern. Some of the most educated states happen to be in the northeastern area of America, and Vermont falls into that category.

A shocking fact about this state is that in 2017, it spent $1.6 billion on education alone. That money went toward 76,000 public school pupils, at an average of over $21,000 per student. As far as the quality of education goes, their ranking is five.

Most Educated #2 – Maryland

Johns Hopkins
Instagram/johnshopkinsu
Instagram/johnshopkinsu

Seven points behind Massachusetts is Maryland. This exceptional state has world-renowned colleges such as John Hopkins University and the University of Maryland. States that have above-average education tend to have more affluent citizens.

Concerning the educational attainment ranking, Maryland sits at number three overall, so students are getting their money’s worth if they decide to attend a big college. With a significant number of highly educated individuals, Maryland ranks first in median household income ($78,916).

Most Educated #1 – Massachusetts

kid sitting on harvard steps
marcojulian88/Instagram
marcojulian88/Instagram

Massachusetts has a reputation for many great things, and as of 2019, it’s now ranked the most educated state in the nation. Massachusetts is the home for some of the most prestigious universities such as Harvard, MIT, and Amherst College.

By the numbers, they ranked number one both quality of education and educational attainment. Not only that, but Massachusetts also has the highest percentage of bachelor degree holders. They’re impressive across the board, making them a clear-cut number one.