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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Westport No. 9 on Most Educated Communities List

By James Lomuscio

It’s official: Westport is diploma elite.

Based on its residents’ increasing levels of education from high school through professional and doctoral degrees, the town has been ranked the ninth most educated community in America by the consumer advocacy website NerdWallet.

In the top 10, it was No. 1 with most bachelor degrees—37 percent.

Westport was the only Connecticut community to make the site’s top 20 list, while Massachusetts boasted five such communities, according to Julia Baily, NerdWallet’s communications associate.

“What makes an educated population?” the website states. “We put on our thinking caps here at NerdWallet and looked at the data to find the most educated places in America.

“We used a broad-based approach to show increasing levels of education, from residents with a high school diploma up to those with a doctorate or professional degree,” the site continues.

“We found that many of the places on this list have underlying industries and educational resources that draw educated residents.”

Bethesda, Md. ranked first, followed by Palo Alto, Calif., Wellesley, Mass., Brookline, Mass., Potomac, Md., Needham, Mass., Cupertino Calif.. and Upper Arlington, Ohio.

Among Westporters, the site states, 20.2 percent have a high school diploma as their highest form of education, 2.7 percent an associate’s degree, 37.2 percent a bachelor’s degree, 25.8 percent a master’s degree, 9.1 percent a professional degree and 2.6 percent, a doctorate.

Summing up the data, the site states, “74.7 percent of Westport’s population holds a bachelor’s or graduate degree, and just 2.4 percent of the population did not complete high school.”

Proximity to New York City was credited for the town’s degree drawing power.

“Westport’s nearness to New York City makes it a natural fit for many people working in finance, science and technology,” NerdWallet reports. “It has a strong economy of its own, lead by major employers like Bridgewater Associates, Canaan Partners, BNY Mellon, Terex and dLife.”

It also noted that several non-profits are headquartered in Westport, including Save the Children and the Smith Richardson Foundation. Proximity to Fairfield University was also factored, though neighboring Fairfield did not make the list.

“Fairfield University is just a short distance away, and it is known for producing both a MacArthur and Guggenheim fellow, and 62 Fulbright scholars in the last 20 years,” the site notes, adding that the university provides local educational support through the Office of Service learning, including faculty and course development, as well as community partnership development.

First Selectman Gordon Joseloff said the results of the survey were no surprise.

“Anyone who has lived here a long time knows that it is a town of high achievers that attracts other high achievers,” he said. “Smart people know Westport is a great place to live and raise a family.”

Schools Superintendent Elliott Landon seemed to echo Joseloff’s remarks.

“I’m not surprised that we rank among the best educated in the nation,” Landon said. “What the population is like is reflected in the skills and talents of the students in our schools who are exceptional.”

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Posted 06/26/13 at 02:59 PM  Permalink



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