How to Read a Map of Education Levels Across America

One of the guiding aspirations of online education is to reach across geographical (and cultural) boundaries. I love my field because I work to help make higher education more widely available to those who have limited access to it. The Educational Attainment in America map, developed by Kyle Walker at TCU, is a fascinating way to look at that challenge. He developed it with existing census data, so there isn’t any new information here. But what the map does very well is to immediately inform the ongoing conversation about the uneven distribution of academic attainment levels in our country.

Just as an example, I suggest you try the “Generate chart for the current view” button in the upper left-half of the window. Click it over Boston, then try it over Detroit. Compare them with each other and with other parts of the country. The following percentiles are taken from the above lat/long/zoom links for Boston and Detroit:

Boston

  • Persons with graduate degrees (27%)
  • Persons with bachelor degrees (25%)
  • Persons with high school diplomas (20%)
  • Persons with some college education (17%)
  • Persons with some high school education (12%).

Detroit

  • Persons with some college education (31%)
  • Persons with high school diplomas (27%)
  • Persons with bachelor degrees (17%)
  • Persons with some high school education (13%)
  • Persons with graduate degrees (12%)

The map makes me think about social issues that wider access to better education may help to address. But I’m curious what other people think of when they look at it. Do you see what you expect? Do you see an educational imperative to reach out to those parts of the country with relatively “low” educational attainment? Do you see the hint of a path toward realizing that imperative? Do you see something else?

Hit us up with your thoughts in the comments.

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