America’s Most Educated Cities: Madison and Boulder Face Off

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Men’s Health dubbed Madison, Wisc. the most educated city in its new list of 100 most and least educated cities, noting the Midwestern capital’s “average household has more degrees than a thermometer.”

Home to the University of Wisconsin, Madison boasts a highly-concentrated population of academics and students, while unemployment is fairly low compared to national 9.3% average.

The magazine gave marks of A+ through failing to 100 U.S. cities based on high school graduation rates, U.S. Census figures on school enrollment for kindergarten through graduate school, education levels of people over the age of 25, and the number of households with student loans or with members taking adult education courses.

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Plano, Texas came in second, also with an A+ rating; Raleigh, N.C., Burlington, Vt., and Seattle, Wash. followed. Major metropolis New York City received a C- at number 54, with Chicago behind it at 55. Los Angeles fell short of the top 50, at number 67.

It’s often said rankings are arbitrary, but NewsFeed is a little puzzled by the disparity between Men’s Health’s list and that of another list released last month.

While U.S. News and World Report’s top 10 most educated cities places Madison in its list, it gives Boulder, Colo. the top spot, attributing University of Colorado and scientific institutes Geological Society of American and the Space Science Institute as major reasons.

The nation’s capital and political epicenter Washington D.C. ranks third in U.S. News while only ranking at no. 34 in the Men’s Health list.  Raleigh, N.C. also made U.S. News’ list at no. 10.

U.S. News‘ methodology consisted of data from the U.S. Census Bureau 2009 American Community Survey, factoring in the number of people 25 or older with post-secondary degrees, weighted by the length of time often required to obtain those degrees.

Of course, each list takes different data into account, while one rates 100 cities and the other only 10. However, it’s still a bit perplexing to gauge which is the more “accurate” analysis, and makes it more difficult for readers to discern where each city ranks.

NewsFeed’s conclusion: Live in a city with a big university. and it’s bound to make a list.

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