Where Young College Graduates Live

When you’re in the thick of the college admission process, it sometimes feels that every teenager in America is applying to the same schools as your child.

The reality is actually starkly different. The vast majority of Americans never earn a college degree.

The Lumina Foundation, which is one of the white knights in the higher ed world, hopes to change that by sponsoring an initiative to prod people with some college credits to return to school and finish.

That, however, is not what prompted my blog. What I found fascinating on Lumina’s site was a state-by-state breakdown of the percentage of college grads between the ages of  25 and 34. As you can see from the chart, Massachusetts (41.4%) and Minnesota (34.5%) can brag about the highest percentage of college graduates and North Dakota (28.8%) comes in third.  (To get those figures I added the percentage who earned bachelor’s degrees with those who obtained graduate degrees.)

No surprise, it was mostly the red states lagging behind the field:  Louisiana, Arkansas, West Virginia, Oklahoma and Kentucky. Also in the mix were Nevada and New Mexico.

What’s neat is that you can check your own state figures, as well as counties by starting here.

I killed time by checking out St. Louis (MO), County, where I grew up. I was amazed that 50.9% of young Americans in this county have college degrees.  I now live in San Diego County where 35.9% of young workers have at least a bachelor’s degrees. I thought that was impressive until I saw San Francisco County’s grad percentage of 66%.

Lynn O’Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution.

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