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California ranks 29th overall in terms of educational success
Ed study

With people who have college degrees earning around $600 to $1,200 more per week than people with just a high school diploma, the personal-finance website WalletHub has released its report on 2024’s Most & Least Educated States in America, as well as expert commentary.

In order to determine the most educated states, WalletHub compared all 50 states across 18 metrics that examined the key factors of a well-educated population: educational attainment, school quality and achievement gaps between genders and races.


How educated is California? (1=Most; 25=Avg.):

Overall Rank: 29th

50th – Percentage of High-School Diploma Holders

24th – Percentage of Associate’s Degree Holders or College-Experienced Adults

15th – Percentage of Bachelor’s Degree Holders

14th – Percentage of Graduate- or Professional-Degree Holders

5th – Avg. University Quality

29th – Racial Gap in Educational Attainment

1st – Gender Gap in Educational Attainment

For the full report, visit:

“Getting a good education doesn’t guarantee high future earnings and better opportunities, but there’s a definite correlation. It’s certainly worth living in one of the most educated states, which offer high-quality learning from childhood all the way through the university level. That’s especially true if you plan to raise children,” said Cassandra Happe, WalletHub Analyst. “Massachusetts ranks as the most educated state in America, in large part because it has the highest percentage of adults ages 25 and older with at least a Bachelor’s degree, at nearly 46 percent, and the highest share who have a graduate or professional degree, at nearly 21 percent. The Bay State ranks second in the country when it comes to the average quality of its universities, and its children have the best performance in the country in math and reading on the National Assessment of Educational Progress.”


Expert Commentary

Are highly educated states better able to withstand economic shocks?

“I believe they are. I contend that higher educated states are better positioned to withstand economic shocks because many of these individuals have jobs that are not the frontline manufacturer where a reduction in force can be done easier. Jobs with the requirement of a higher education are more resilient to economic downturns.”

Brett Geier – Professor, Western Michigan University


To what extent should states consider education policy as part of a broader economic development strategy?

“As someone who cares deeply about education, I know the importance education policy will have on our future, so states have to consider education policy as a potential economic development strategy. For example, if we create policies to ensure schools not only hire but retain teachers, our youth will have improved chances of succeeding in K-12 thus increasing chances that students enroll in some form of postsecondary education. These youth will go on to become our next generation of entrepreneurs, doctors, nurses, lawyers, real estate investors, and voting taxpaying members of society which will continue to stimulate our economic growth. By creating policies to ensure all students succeed our economy will be a direct beneficiary.”

Dr. Ramon Goings – Associate Professor, University of Maryland, Baltimore County


What is the impact of K-12 school quality on rates of high school completion and later college attendance and completion?

“There has been a longstanding debate as to whether the rates of high school completion, college attendance, and college completion are due more to student ability or to school quality. When it comes to K-12 education, various studies have found that school districts with well-prepared teachers, sufficient levels of counseling and advising staff, student-centered educational practices, and ample financial and educational resources are likely to have higher levels of student high school completion and college attendance than districts that lack these (and other) determinants of school quality. When it comes to college attendance and completion, large-scale study findings suggest that student success is more likely when there is a strong match between the quality of the college and students’ ability levels. In other words, as the quality of the higher education institution increases, the completion rate for less academically inclined students tends to decrease. While these study findings are informative, it is important to remember that many factors determine whether or not a student graduates from high school, attends college, or completes their college degree. Most of these factors—socio-economic conditions, parents’ education levels, job opportunities, and others—have nothing to do with the quality of the school a student attends or their overall ability to succeed in school.”

Andrew Furco – Professor; Associate Chair, Dept. of Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development; Co-Coordinator, Higher Education Program; Director, International Center for Research on Community Engagement, University of Minnesota