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Top 10 Least-Educated U.S. States

Name the states where the lowest percentage of people over 25 have a four year college degree.
For the year 2022, according to the U.S. Census
Quiz by nonono
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Last updated: September 18, 2023
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First submittedNovember 5, 2015
Times taken58,840
Average score70.0%
Rating4.34
1:30
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%
State
24.8
Mississippi
24.8
West Virginia
25.4
Arkansas
27.0
Nevada
27.1
Louisiana
%
State
27.9
Kentucky
28.5
Oklahoma
28.8
Alabama
29.6
Wyoming
29.6
Indiana
61 Comments
+32
Level 66
Jan 18, 2016
I could have sworn I'd typed in Louisiana...oh well.
+7
Level 61
Dec 31, 2017
Me too. I totally typed in West Virginia!
+5
Level 65
May 5, 2016
I literally got every single one except for #1.
+25
Level 91
Sep 1, 2017
Yeah, what a difference a "West" makes! Virginia is near the top most-educated states.
+35
Level 56
Dec 31, 2017
Make a separate East Virginia to show further contrast.
+6
Level 55
Jan 1, 2018
Yeah, because a bundle of federal civil servants, politicians and lobbyists live in Virginia. They let West Virginia swim for itself.
+8
Level 65
Jan 2, 2018
West Virginia broke away from Virginia in 1863 over the Civil War and slavery--the mostly mountainous counties in WV had no use for a slave economy and wanted to remain part of the Union.
+1
Level 69
Nov 1, 2023
Slanky is right. West Virginia was formed during the Civil War and was fiercely pro-Union.
+6
Level 82
Jan 4, 2018
The biggest geographical contrast in Virginia is between Northern Virginia (the DC suburbs) and the rest of the state. Though politically this area is similar to Richmond and the Virginia Beach area.
+3
Level 75
Sep 1, 2017
Same. Facepalm.
+5
Level 77
Sep 3, 2017
I typed like half the states in the country, and got one. ONE!
+33
Level 56
Dec 31, 2017
Ever heard of the South lol
+3
Level 45
Dec 31, 2017
Never would have guessed Indiana.
+6
Level 45
Dec 31, 2017
Thanks Indiana, got 9 out of 10 cause of you...
+9
Level 58
Dec 31, 2017
So the Kansas stereotype of uneducated farmers isn't as true as I thought...
+7
Level 71
Dec 31, 2017
yeah, I was surprised about that too. No Kansas or Nebraska!
+10
Level 45
Jun 25, 2019
Remember, a pretty decent percentage of Kansas' population is in Wichita or the Kansas City metro- both areas with pretty high education levels. In Nebraska, a little over a third of the population is in the Omaha metro area, and a decent chunk is also in the Lincoln area. While both of these states are very rural in terms of space, the people are highly concentrated. Alaska (where the overwhelming majority of people are in the Anchorage area), Idaho (where most people are in the Boise area), and Nevada (literally 2/3's of the state is in the county with Las Vegas) are in a similar boat.
+10
Level 82
Dec 2, 2019
Farming is really scientific these days and many farmers go to ag schools. A lot of the universities with "state" in their name have significant agriculture programs (eg, Ohio State, Iowa State, Washington State).
+4
Level 64
Dec 31, 2017
Kansas + Nebraska

Conservative + educated. Think prairie home companion and you're close.

+14
Level 61
Jan 2, 2018
Love to see how this correlates with per capita spending on education state by state
+5
Level ∞
Sep 14, 2023
Highly correlated but not in any way causative.

Areas with high paying jobs (think SF, DC, NYC) attract educated workers. They also have a high cost of living. This requires them to spend more on education to provide the same basic services since teachers earn more, building maintenance is more expensive, etc...

Here in Seattle, teachers make a lot of money in absolute terms, but still struggle to afford to live here.

The state with the lowest spending per pupil is Utah. Chicago schools spend three times as much per student as Utah. Where would you rather send your kids?

Going international, Singapore has a very low cost per student and has educational outcomes that put the U.S. to shame.

Spending is largely irrelevant.

+1
Level 67
Sep 18, 2023
Private schools have way more funding and provide way more opportunities for students. Of course funding matters.
+1
Level 74
Dec 1, 2023
IDK about that, I think lots of private schools may have lower expenditures per student than public schools in high-cost-of-living areas.
+3
Level 78
Jan 3, 2018
I think it says something about the gentrification of college campuses that my home state of Indiana is internationally very well-known for its colleges (IU, Purdue, Notre Dame, etc.), yet relatively few of those degrees actually go to Hoosiers. Either that, or in-state students move away once they get a degree, which in that case I wouldn't blame them, LOL.
+5
Level 67
Jan 7, 2018
One of my coworkers (in Chicago) is from Indiana, and he always says Indiana is a "come-from" state, not a "go-to" state.
+2
Level 46
May 26, 2021
drove through indiana when i was 5, there was a very fun museum playplace thing.
+6
Level 82
Jan 4, 2018
Italy would rank just between Arkansas and Mississippi.
+16
Level 76
Apr 11, 2020
Different countries have different education systems and different meanings for 'college educated'. This is a bad metric for comparing countries.
+6
Level 82
Apr 11, 2020
Okay. It's still true.
+15
Level 58
Nov 15, 2018
Amazing to the amount of correlation people will try to apply as causation in this site's comments. Often it more conforms to their information bias.
+7
Level 61
Mar 5, 2019
Exactly. I tried to refute it, but there's too many of them!
+4
Level 83
Apr 4, 2019
Valiant effort though!
+4
Level 47
May 9, 2019
Well you sure proved everybody wrong with your comment.
+6
Level 66
Dec 2, 2019
True. But it's just as epistemically weak/suspect to believe that simply by refuting causation all correlation should be written off as information bias that lacks probative value.
+9
Level ∞
Sep 14, 2023
FYI, I deleted a lot of low-information political comments from this comments section. I'll continue to do so. JetPunk is not a political discussion forum.

If you must post about politics, increase your level of charity and effort.

+1
Level 55
Nov 20, 2018
Disappointed that my state (Oklahoma) is on here.
+7
Level ∞
Sep 26, 2019
The numbers have crept up a bit since the last iteration of this quiz. Personally, I'm not of the opinion that college education is an unalloyed good. If current trends continue, nearly everyone will have a college degree, yet the average person will be just as ignorant. Standards are already shockingly low, even at top universities. And of course the cost is ludicrous.
+5
Level 37
Apr 11, 2020
^ I agree. My four years of University in the US taught me nothing (save a more in depth study of American History, and American pronunciations) that I hadn't already learned at the equivalent of a US Junior College in the Netherlands. What a shame! In our parents' generation a high school education in the US was the equivalent of a college degree. It allowed them to function at a higher level than bachelor degree holders today. That's why so many of us have to opt for post-graduate degrees... to actually learn something useful.
+1
Level 71
Mar 22, 2021
There's a certain point where I think there's no way to make the majority of the population more skilled/knowledgeable, no matter how much you change the education system. Most people only have a certain capacity to remember old facts while learning new ones. I'm not necessarily saying this as an insult, it's just that the human brain can't retain that much information over a long time.

That being said, if we focused more on teaching valuable, important things in a child's formative years, they'll be more likely to remember it. I think that reforming the education system in primary school to high school would have a more significant impact in reducing ignorance levels than reforming it in college.

+12
Level 67
Dec 2, 2019
Not having a college degree does not mean you are uneducated. Most people who do tough work like mining, building a house or maintenance do not have a college degree. Not because they are not smart enough but because money and I bet most college kids could not screw a wheel on a car.
+2
Level 67
Dec 2, 2019
That is very true.
+5
Level 60
Dec 4, 2019
Educated and intelligent aren't the same thing. If your schooling ended with a high school diploma then yes, you are uneducated.
+6
Level 89
Dec 4, 2019
So the first 12 years of school don't count at all as education? If you graduate high school, of course you are educated...there are different levels of education, and different ways to educate oneself. You don't have to have a four year degree from a traditional university to call yourself educated. Of course you are right that educated and intelligent are not the same thing.
+4
Level 81
Sep 18, 2023
If I learn things on my own volition after high school is that not education? Do I have to pay someone to tell me to read the book, or can I just read the book?
+2
Level 88
Sep 19, 2023
Up to a point maybe. Do you want self-taught surgeons, airline pilots, civil engineers etc?
+1
Level 28
Dec 4, 2019
I missed Arkansas (-_-)
+1
Level 28
Dec 4, 2019
And now I missed West Virginia (o_o)
+4
Level 23
Dec 30, 2021
Living in a midwest state and previously living in metropolitans, I know that this way of comparing education is severely flawed. Most jobs in the midwest/south are manufacturing and agriculture, to which almost none get a bachelor's degree. Most jobs are trade-oriented, meaning that at most you would go and seek an associate's degree, go to a trade school, or get taught on the job. Furthermore, the majority of rural associate's degrees require very few general education credits. IE: Why would a farmer need to know Beer's law? You can make an association that the more rural the state, the more specialized their education is. A much better metric for calculating education would be to compare higher-education capacity, availability, and trade certificates per population. Education has nothing to do with race, politics, or intelligence, but with everything aforementioned.
+4
Level 84
Dec 30, 2021
Years ago, my brother worked at Ciba-Geigy, which became Novartis. He worked in a department of about 12 people and was the only one there without a college degree. When his boss was away, he was the only one in the group who could run the department. Several of them couldn't even be trusted to simply file things alphabetically. By this quiz's standard, they were all "more educated" and my brother was the "least educated".
+1
Level 67
Dec 31, 2021
Just missed Kentucky and SD
+3
Level 69
Jan 1, 2022
why do americans hate other americans so much lmao
+2
Level 82
Jan 1, 2022
Some hate others because the others are ignorant. Some hate others because they are themselves ignorant.
+1
Level 75
Nov 29, 2023
I wonder which one Kalbahamut thinks he is.
+3
Level 85
Sep 18, 2023
Because it makes large media conglomerates and politicians very wealthy.
+1
Level 89
Sep 21, 2023
The U.S. has nothing on Canada's regionalism. 
+3
Level 14
Jan 29, 2022
Nonono! I didn’t finish the quiz!
+3
Level 60
Aug 17, 2023
10/10 WV PUBLIC SCHOOLS, SON!
+1
Level 26
Oct 28, 2023
Alaska?

Hawaii?

+1
Level 70
Oct 30, 2023
Woo hoo! Tennessee! We’re not in the Bottom 10 of something good! We made it out! We made it out! Take that, stupid bordering KY, AL & MS!
+1
Level 75
Nov 29, 2023
Yet West Virginia manages to have the most colleges per capita by my methodology... what are doing?
+1
Level 66
Apr 6, 2024
just guess red states until one sticks