DENVER, CO — Colorado is the 5th most educated state in the country, according to a recent analysis. The personal finance website WalletHub analyzed various factors in its ranking of the 50 states, finding that in general, more schooling translates to higher earning power, greater chances of getting a job and increased mobility to go where the jobs are.
WalletHub’s experts said that the more educated states are better able to withstand economic shocks; that states with high-quality, well-funded K-12 programs have higher percentages of residents with college and post-graduate degrees; and that reductions in public funding for education make states less competitive in the long-run and less able to withstand economic downturns.
The WalletHub rankings put the state at No. 5, just behind and ahead of Vermont (4) and ahead of Virginia (6).
Colorado ranked 5th in overall educational attainment, but ranked in the middle of the pack at 23rd in average quality of universities, perhaps indicating that many of the highly educated people in Colorado did not get their degrees in the state.
Colorado was also listed as the top state with the most residents with associates degrees, or some adult college experience, followed by Utah, Washington, Minnesota and Oregon.
Massachusetts, which took the No. 1 spot on WalletHub’s list, topped the ranking for the highest percentage of bachelor’s degree holders, the highest percentage of graduate- or professional-degree holders, and the highest average university quality. Maryland ranked second overall, coming in at No. 2 for the highest percentage of residents with advanced degrees and third for the highest percentage of bachelor’s degree holders.
Colorado was ranked second, after Massachusetts, for states with the highest percentage of the population holding a bachelor’s degree.
Connecticut, home to Yale University, ranked third overall, fourth in educational attainment and ninth in quality of education. Vermont and Colorado were the fourth- and fifth-most educated states.
On the other end of the spectrum, Mississippi and four southern states ranked in the bottom five. Mississippi has the third-lowest percentage of high school graduates (behind Texas and California), the fifth-lowest percentage of associate’s degree holders, the second lowest percentage of bachelor’s degree holders, and tied for 45th with Louisiana and Nevada for the lowest percentage of advanced degree holders.
Four other southern states rounded out the bottom five — Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and West Virginia, respectively.
Among the least-educated states, Alabama ranked 45th in overall educational attainment and 40th in the average quality of universities; Arkansas ranked 47th in overall educational attainment and 34th in average quality of universities; Louisiana ranked 48th in overall educational attainment and 47th in average quality of universities; and West Virginia ranked 50th in overall educational attainment and 42nd in average quality of universities.
For the study, WalletHub examined the key factors of a well-educated population across all 50 states: educational attainment, school quality, and achievement gaps between genders and races. The study looked at the percentage of adults with at least a high school diploma to average university quality to gender gap in educational attainment. Data were collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, National Center for Education Statistics, The Chronicle of Higher Education, U.S. News & World Report, Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, U.S. Department of Education, The College Board and WalletHub’s own research.
Some other findings:
South Dakota had the lowest average university quality. It ranked 34th overall. Six states — Colorado, North Dakota, Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas and California— tied for first for the lowest gender gap in educational attainment. Rhode Island, which ranked 23rd overall, had the biggest gender gap in educational attainment. Alaska had the largest racial gap. North Dakota had the smallest racial gap. Montana ranked first in the percentage of residents with high school diplomas and 16th overall, but 49th in the average quality of universities.
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