These Are The 10 Smartest Cities In North Carolina

John McLean
by John McLean
Rankings - 2 years ago
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One of the many qualities that people look for in a potential location or company is the intelligence of those around them. This factor can play a huge role in one’s experience at a particular company and can make or break an employee’s time there.

So finding a city with an intelligent population makes sense for both companies and employees. That’s where Zippia comes in; to help you identify those places in North Carolina that might have skipped a grade…or two.

You may be wondering how does one determine how intelligent a town really is?

Well we went to the source of all things demographic data – the Census – to figure out what criteria about a place would identify it is a smart cookie.

We set upon the percentage of adults (over 25) with at least a high school degree and the percentage of high school dropouts (aged 16-20) for the 132 largest cities in North Carolina with data. We then crunched the numbers and were left with this set of the brightest cities in the Tar Heel State:

  1. Marvin
  2. Weddington
  3. Davidson
  4. Pinehurst
  5. Oak Ridge
  6. Apex
  7. Summerfield
  8. Carolina Beach
  9. Harrisburg
  10. Chapel Hill

Read on to see why these places got into a four-year college or skip to the end to see a full chart of all the places in our analysis.

For more NC reading, check out:

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How we determined the smartest places in the Tar Heel State

Before we could dive into the potential IQs of various places in North Carolina, we needed to know which places to look at in the first place. We settled upon any place with over 5,000 people and data available for every criteria.

This left us with 132 places in North Carolina.

We then looked at the following criteria to determine the cream from the crop when it comes to smarts:

Our data comes directly from the latest American Community Survey from the Census.

We thought this criteria was representative of the current state of smarts with the potential for a place to improve the education levels of the next generation. And it’s not like we are setting the education bar incredibly high — 80% of students graduate from high school nowadays.

In order to determine the smartest, we ranked all the cities for each criteria from one to 132 with one being the “smartest” in any category.

We took the average rank across all criteria, with the place posting the highest overall score being given the diploma for “Smartest City In North Carolina”.

If your city or town isn’t among the top 10, jump down to the bottom of the post to see a detailed chart. Otherwise, learn more about how the top ten cities achieved their potential.

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1. Marvin

Smartest North Carolina

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 5,806
Adults Without High School Diploma: 0.7%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 0.0%

Graduating early with their diplomas held high are the citizens in Martin, North Carolina. With a population of 5,806, an almost nonexistent high school dropout rate, and only .7% of the adult population without a high school diploma this town earned its #1 spot.

2. Weddington

Smartest North Carolina

Population: 9,906
Adults Without High School Diploma: 1.4%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 0.0%

Coming in the bittersweet #2 spot on our smartest cities list is the city of Weddington. With zero dropout rate mark and only 1.4% of the adult population missing a high school diploma they are in close competition to be sure.

3. Davidson

Smartest North Carolina

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 11,492
Adults Without High School Diploma: 2.4%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 0.0%

Davidson, North Carolina can be found in the #3 spot of smartest cities. With such great numbers and a total population hovering at 11,492 people it’s a shoe in as one of the smartest cities in the Tar Heel State.

4. Pinehurst

Smartest North Carolina

Source: Flickr

Population: 15,052
Adults Without High School Diploma: 2.6%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 0.0%

Pinehurst, our #4 town, earned its place on the list of smartest cities with only 2.6% of the adult population missing their high school diplomas. With a reputable 15,052 residents this city is on the road to success.

5. Oak Ridge

Smartest North Carolina

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 6,435
Adults Without High School Diploma: 3.5%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 0.0%

Oak Ridge has the keys to success tucked away in their pockets as they swoop into #5. At 6,435 this tiny town is doing big things with almost no high school dropouts and a low percentage of adults without a high school education.

6. Apex

Smartest North Carolina

Source: Flickr

Population: 40,631
Adults Without High School Diploma: 2.9%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 0.9%

The suburban city of Apex has taken the #6 spot with winning numbers all around. With a population hovering around 40,000 and less than 1% of high schoolers dropping out early it’s a shoe in for our list of the smartest cities.

7. Summerfield

Smartest North Carolina

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 10,477
Adults Without High School Diploma: 4.8%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 0.0%

The lovely town of Summerfield boasts impressive numbers as they have almost a nonexistent high school dropout rate and so few adults walking around without a high school diploma.

8. Carolina Beach

Smartest North Carolina

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 5,888
Adults Without High School Diploma: 5.1%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 0.0%

The kids at Carolina Beach are focused on school rather than play as they rank in at #8. A small town of only 5,888 residents they have few to no high school dropouts.

Smart cookies!

9. Harrisburg

Smartest North Carolina

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 13,549
Adults Without High School Diploma: 5.2%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 0.0%

Cutting it close is the town of Harrisburg, North Carolina. A city of over 13,000 they kept the high school dropout rate ultra low to fill the #9 spot.

10. Chapel Hill

Smartest North Carolina

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 58,379
Adults Without High School Diploma: 4.5%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 0.6%

Last but certainly not least is the college town of Chapel Hill. Home to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill it’s no wonder they made our list since the kids here already know where they want to go to college.

Go Heels!

And that’s how you graduate in style

That is our definitive ranking of the 10 Smartest Cities in North Carolina. Here at Zippia we want to bring important information to our readers. Now you can make a more informed decision on your next visit to the Tar Heel State. Be sure to visit these towns to see their intelligence first hand and experience it for yourself. And next time you’re looking for career advice head to zippia.com to have all of your quesitons answered.

Detailed List Of Smartest Cities In North Carolina

City Rank Population Adults Without High School Diploma Teenage High School Dropouts
Marvin 1 5,806 0.7% 0.0%
Weddington 2 9,906 1.4% 0.0%
Davidson 3 11,492 2.4% 0.0%
Pinehurst 4 15,052 2.6% 0.0%
Oak Ridge 5 6,435 3.5% 0.0%
Apex 6 40,631 2.9% 0.9%
Summerfield 7 10,477 4.8% 0.0%
Carolina Beach 8 5,888 5.1% 0.0%
Harrisburg 9 13,549 5.2% 0.0%
Chapel Hill 10 58,379 4.5% 0.6%
Waxhaw 11 10,878 3.9% 1.2%
Lewisville 12 13,037 5.9% 0.0%
Matthews 13 28,677 5.4% 0.5%
Kill Devil Hills 14 6,810 6.5% 0.0%
Elon 15 9,516 6.6% 0.0%
Cary 16 146,041 4.8% 1.8%
Winterville 17 9,424 7.5% 0.0%
Wesley Chapel 18 7,882 5.5% 1.6%
Wake Forest 19 33,319 5.2% 2.3%
Oak Island 20 7,051 8.2% 0.0%
Holly Springs 21 27,339 3.6% 3.3%
Havelock 22 20,850 5.2% 2.4%
Gibsonville 23 6,565 8.7% 0.0%
Carrboro 24 20,337 7.3% 1.4%
Stallings 25 14,185 6.5% 2.3%
Garner 26 26,723 8.4% 0.5%
Clemmons 27 19,101 6.4% 2.7%
Boone 28 17,802 9.1% 0.2%
Mint Hill 29 23,934 8.3% 1.1%
Spring Lake 30 13,101 9.3% 0.3%
Greenville 31 87,546 9.1% 0.8%
Southern Pines 32 12,782 8.1% 2.3%
Black Mountain 33 7,977 10.7% 0.0%
Knightdale 34 12,692 10.9% 0.0%
Jacksonville 35 69,300 8.8% 1.5%
Clayton 36 17,274 7.3% 3.0%
Morehead City 37 9,030 11.3% 0.0%
Morrisville 38 20,728 4.0% 5.5%
Huntersville 39 49,279 5.0% 5.0%
Conover 40 8,200 12.0% 0.0%
Indian Trail 41 34,950 7.2% 3.7%
Boiling Spring Lakes 42 5,529 12.7% 0.0%
Mount Holly 43 13,815 14.4% 0.0%
Hope Mills 44 16,024 11.4% 1.9%
Raleigh 45 423,287 9.3% 3.2%
Pineville 46 7,855 14.8% 0.0%
Belmont 47 10,346 14.7% 0.2%
Asheville 48 85,783 8.3% 4.8%
Unionville 49 6,180 6.0% 6.9%
Shelby 50 20,283 14.4% 2.3%
Fayetteville 51 202,421 9.0% 4.9%
Concord 52 82,266 13.0% 3.0%
Greensboro 53 276,225 11.6% 3.7%
Mills River 54 6,917 7.5% 7.6%
Nashville 55 5,469 11.9% 3.9%
Mooresville 56 34,466 8.3% 6.8%
Charlotte 57 774,807 11.9% 4.2%
Brevard 58 7,651 12.0% 4.0%
Washington 59 9,768 18.7% 0.3%
Durham 60 240,107 12.8% 3.8%
Fletcher 61 7,320 8.2% 7.7%
Wilmington 62 110,100 10.4% 6.0%
Kernersville 63 23,522 9.6% 6.4%
Cornelius 64 26,246 5.4% 14.5%
Wadesboro 65 5,711 19.6% 0.6%
Rockingham 66 9,444 16.8% 3.1%
Rocky Mount 67 57,071 17.4% 2.8%
Elizabeth City 68 18,343 19.5% 1.2%
Hickory 69 40,108 15.1% 3.8%
Leland 70 15,316 7.3% 15.0%
Stokesdale 71 5,177 5.7% 26.9%
Waynesville 72 9,770 18.1% 3.3%
Roanoke Rapids 73 15,653 19.3% 2.8%
Goldsboro 74 35,908 15.5% 4.8%
Mebane 75 12,509 9.0% 12.2%
Fuquay-Varina 76 20,246 10.4% 10.7%
Hillsborough 77 6,256 15.2% 5.0%
King 78 6,732 10.4% 12.1%
High Point 79 106,797 14.5% 7.2%
Salisbury 80 33,524 18.2% 4.6%
Laurinburg 81 15,799 20.4% 3.3%
Smithfield 82 11,357 23.1% 1.3%
Aberdeen 83 6,702 12.7% 11.3%
Sawmills 84 5,164 21.8% 2.8%
Cherryville 85 5,826 18.8% 4.5%
Lenoir 86 18,061 25.4% 0.9%
Kings Mountain 87 10,743 17.4% 5.9%
Mocksville 88 5,086 22.6% 2.5%
Wendell 89 6,085 11.1% 15.7%
Winston-Salem 90 234,469 15.4% 7.8%
Albemarle 91 15,924 21.7% 3.4%
Thomasville 92 27,042 21.5% 3.5%
Henderson 93 15,325 28.2% 0.8%
Selma 94 6,172 40.2% 0.0%
Archdale 95 11,322 19.7% 5.0%
Statesville 96 25,132 17.8% 7.7%
Woodfin 97 6,167 12.9% 16.5%
Graham 98 14,384 21.1% 5.4%
Ayden 99 5,018 19.0% 7.2%
Williamston 100 5,410 18.3% 7.9%
Gastonia 101 72,664 17.9% 9.3%
Clinton 102 8,729 20.3% 6.4%
Trinity 103 6,648 16.2% 12.2%
Reidsville 104 14,249 14.9% 15.9%
New Bern 105 30,171 16.2% 13.7%
Hendersonville 106 13,350 14.2% 29.1%
Bessemer City 107 5,410 23.1% 4.4%
Monroe 108 33,588 25.5% 3.7%
Whiteville 109 5,465 21.3% 6.6%
Kinston 110 21,589 20.1% 7.7%
Eden 111 15,543 21.8% 6.1%
Dunn 112 9,570 21.2% 7.3%
Burlington 113 51,740 18.4% 12.0%
Lincolnton 114 10,601 20.3% 9.5%
Hamlet 115 6,566 21.0% 9.2%
Ahoskie 116 5,017 27.1% 4.9%
Kannapolis 117 43,865 18.2% 15.3%
Roxboro 118 8,330 28.3% 5.1%
Wilson 119 49,389 21.0% 14.0%
Lumberton 120 21,707 28.2% 6.3%
Sanford 121 28,798 22.7% 10.9%
Siler City 122 8,109 32.9% 6.1%
Forest City 123 7,387 29.9% 6.2%
Tarboro 124 11,323 23.9% 9.5%
Oxford 125 8,585 19.7% 29.5%
Marion 126 7,948 22.3% 12.8%
Newton 127 12,998 21.5% 16.2%
Asheboro 128 25,573 25.8% 9.5%
Morganton 129 16,816 24.7% 12.4%
Lexington 130 19,029 29.5% 9.3%
Butner 131 7,661 21.9% 33.7%
Mount Airy 132 10,411 24.0% 19.2%

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