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Houston scores surprising ranking in new list of most educated cities in the U.S.

Houston scores surprising ranking in new list of most educated cities

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Despite top-tiers schools such as Rice, Houston didn't score well in the list. Photo courtesy of Rice University

Houston is a well-known opportunity city, with pillar industries such as energy, medicine, space, and tech — all requiring high levels of education. So just how educated is the Bayou City?

Not stellar, says personal finance website in its new list of the most and least educated cities in the United States.

WalletHub started with the country’s 150 most populated metropolitan areas, and compared them over 11 metrics addressing population shares by highest level of education (the great majority of the weight of the study), quality of schools, summer learning opportunities, and education equality to create a scoring and ranking system.

Houston scored roughly a C-minus, coming in at No. 88 overall. It ranked 94th in the educational attainment category, and 33rd on the quality of education vs. education gap category. Notably, Houston ranks just above Los Angeles in the list.

The top 10 most educated U.S. cities, according to WalletHub, are:

1. Ann Arbor, Michigan
2. San Jose, California
3. Washington, D.C.
4. Madison, Wisconsin
5. San Francisco, California
6. Boston, Massachusetts
7. Durham, North Carolina
8. Raleigh, North Carolina
9. Seattle, Washington
10. Austin, Texas

(CultureMap has simplified these cities from metropolitan areas for readability.)

Of these 10 cities, half are capitals, including the nation’s capital at No. 4. This could be as much a fact of population-based methodology as an indication that capitals tend to be very well educated (i.e. states like Maine are represented only once, by its capital city, which happened to do quite well at No. 16). However, the least educated capital was Salem, Oregon (No. 116), demonstrating a much lower prevalence in the lower rankings.

Outside of Austin nailing a top-10 spot, the rest of Texas lags significantly behind in the WalletHub rankings, with Dallas cracking the top half at No. 73 and San Antonio (No. 105) around the middle, with other Texas spots (Killeen, El Paso, Corpus Christi, Beaumont) falling even lower. McAllen and Brownsville came third and second to last overall.

One limiting factor in this survey of education is its focus on formal, in-school education. Although most of Texas could stand to improve its numbers in these realms, Austinites are afforded one more luxury as Texans: an opportunity to look deeper at the community values around them that elude or resist standardization. Maybe wait until school’s out, though.

This ranking comes as Houston’s halls of higher learning are making major moves. Rice University was just named best return on investment in Texas, while the University of Houston’s medical school has just received a $50 million injection from billionaire benefactor Tilman Fertitta.