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Posted on Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 10:26 a.m.

Ann Arbor beats Cambridge and Berkeley for smartest city in the U.S.

By Cindy Heflin

Ann Arbor residents have one more thing about which to feel smug. Our fair city, which perennially ranks on lists ranging from best place to live to most walkable, now also ranks No. 1 in brainpower, at least when it’s measured by educational attainment.

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Seventy-two percent of Ann Arbor residents over 25 have college degrees.

Seventy-two percent of all adults 25 or older hold bachelor's degrees in Ann Arbor, and 43 percent have advanced degrees, an analysis by The Business Journals found.

Cambridge, home to Harvard University, came in second, while Berkeley where the University of California is located, was third.

The analysis ranked cities with more than 100,000 residents.



Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 2:11 p.m.

I guess my response to all of the negativity toward higher education is... if you don't like Ann Arbor, leave. Can't understand why so many people that have NOTHING positive to say about A2 still live here. Reading comments here daily would make me think A2 is a craphole, unfit for human habitation. But, property values and a growing population belie this argument. So much whining, so little doing.


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 3:54 a.m.

Smart? Most of the people I see throughout the day don't even have enough sense to look up to read a sign indicating where the item they're looking for is. College educated? Sure. But seriously lacking when it comes to common sense and powers of observation.


Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 11:03 p.m.

Wehrwolf said it best " 28 square miles surrounded by reality". When it is all boiled down, this is the only problem with Ann Arbor.


Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 10:58 p.m.

If Ann Arborites are so smart, then why can't get power to the UM stadium? I guess it goes without saying. Glad we live outside of Ann Arbor.


Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 10:24 p.m.

I had a feeling that the comments here would be skewed towards - "Education is overrated and elitist" - but didn't think the distribution would be as one-sided as it is. Not surprised though. But let's look at what education gets Ann Arbor - the only place in Michigan that's hiring, where homes are still selling, and where there's a vibrant culture, food, and nightlife scene. So if that's elitist, I'll take it any day. I'm a Michigan transplant and I've seen enough of what's going on to make this guess - Most of the people ripping on Ann Arbor for this distinction are not from this area. I'm willing to bet a lot of these people are from East Lansing, home of the college with the little brother complex.


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 3:58 a.m.

I've lived in Ann Arbor for 15 years and rip on it almost daily.


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 1:03 a.m.

I for one am a life long resident.


Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 10:38 p.m.

Ha. Or Why Piss Lanti.


Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 9:40 p.m.

Really, why do we have such dumb ELECTED officials?


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 2:12 p.m.

Run for office. Get hired by the City. Prove to us that you know all about everything. Or whine.

Frank Dillard

Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 8:20 p.m.

95% of Ann Arborites don't know how to use turn signals. That's not smart.

Dog Guy

Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 1:37 p.m.

Be fair, F. D., anyone can see that import cars don't have turn signals.


Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 10:59 p.m.

Plus they want to abolish the mandated pedestrians crosswalks because they still don't know how to use them.


Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 8:12 p.m.

Clearly not referring to our City Council, who is desperately trying to turn us into Boulder, CO.


Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 7:52 p.m.

If we're so smart, why do we need so much help to cross a road?


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 2:58 p.m.

Who, exactly, needs help to cross the road? The drivers can't figure it out in my opinion.


Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 11:26 p.m.

Smart people are simply more complicated.


Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 11 p.m.

There, not that is solved, lets get some breakfast at the Egg.


Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 10:12 p.m.

Because we're chicken


Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 9:12 p.m.

Brilliantly said!

Scotty Laddy

Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 6:32 p.m.

Response to icha328: "Proof that education level and common sense too often do not correlate." What lack of common sense are you referring to?

rusty shackelford

Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 6:19 p.m.

Cambridge and Berkeley are much more integrated with their nearby metropolises than A2 is, and both have historically-rooted working class populations that Ann Arbor does not--or no longer does.


Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 6:19 p.m.

I know the smug comment was likely done to be facetious, but in all earnestness, this town doesn't need another reason to be smug. 28 square miles surrounded by reality.


Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 6:13 p.m.

So what's our elected officials excuse?

John Hill

Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 6 p.m.

I'd guess we're way up there for per capita student debt, too


Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 5:53 p.m.

I think we should call it like it is: this is about elitism, nothing more, nothing less. I greatly value higher education, but I think great virtues always have a downside. There is no doubt that terrible leadership via facile elitism and nanny-state histrionics really damage the city's reputation and to a lesser extent, quality of life. With that said, Ann Arbor is a beautiful city with a great educational system. One could do a lot worse.

Michigan Man

Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 5:38 p.m.

Does anybody really care about this silly designation?


Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 5:32 p.m.

Proof that education level and common sense too often do not correlate.

Renee S.

Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 10:43 p.m.

Do you mean that they're orthogonal, or that they're negatively correlated? Regardless, similar sentiments are often repeated but never proven, because no one has found a way to measure &quot;common sense.&quot; I don't particularly buy that the undereducated or low IQ among us all have some sort of hidden wisdom. And even if they do, I'll happily take the lower mortality rate: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> &quot;In a cohort of British men and women, the most important explanatory factors for the lower mortality rate among individuals with high IQ were parental interest in child's education, high adult educational level, and low prevalence of psychosomatic symptoms. However, common sociodemographic risk factors and health behaviors may not be suf?cient to explain the association between IQ and early mortality completely.&quot;


Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 5:14 p.m.

And we have that really cool &quot;beef jerky&quot; stautue in front of our city hall. I don't see how Cambridge and Berkeley could ever compete with us.


Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 5:11 p.m.

What's wrong with higher education/degree? Say you are a boss about to hire one guy for a technical position; two candicates whom you don't know anything about them applied the job. One got a GED, the other got a B.S., which one you are more likely to hire. Simple test?


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 2:08 p.m.

Not one real answer to the question! So sad.


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 1:02 a.m.

Good point arborani Many of those that get their HS diploma at graduation go through the motions and get by , but would not follow through and get their GED if necessary.


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 12:37 a.m.

Whatever the reason for missing a conventional high school graduation, those persons who go back for the GED make a conscious choice to put forth the effort. I know some &quot;GEDs&quot; I would back against certain PhDs any day.


Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 11:50 p.m.

Einstein worked in the German patent office.


Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 5:35 p.m.

I would hire the one with the GED if he were required to change a light bulb!


Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 5:34 p.m.

Speaking of B.S.!


Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 5:28 p.m.

Totally agree. In fact, I hear you need an MBA to be an investment banker on Wall Street.


Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 5:02 p.m.

If you were ever a true ann arborite you would have known this a long time ago.


Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 11:21 p.m.

Or at least, thought you knew.


Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 5:38 p.m.

I pride myself on being a true EX Annarborite!


Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 4:32 p.m.

Of course we're intelligent. Look how many of us are so good at our jobs that we can comment on all day and still pull down big money! S-M-R-T!!!


Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 5:37 p.m.


Top Cat

Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 4:25 p.m.

How can we be smug when there is not a decent Mexican restaurant in town ?


Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 7:55 p.m.

Come to Ypsi, go to Los Amigos.

rusty shackelford

Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 6:17 p.m.

Lot of great Mexican in Boston, is there?


Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 5:16 p.m.

You need to venture to the &quot;other&quot; side of Carpenter, my friend. It won't kill you (usually).: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>

C. S. Gass

Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 4:22 p.m.

Couldn't agree more EyeHeart. The problem is that too often people equate intelligence and education. Ages past, higher education was a natural next step for those who were intelligent (i.e. had a high IQ, the real measure of intelligence). Today, everyone is 'entitled' to an education, and education is lavished upon many who cannot apply the principles they are taught because of an average (or sometimes worse) IQ. I am a Libertarian, and I hate to &quot;Bush-bash&quot; like a screeching liberal, but you really need look no farther for the failure of higher education than 'W'. He had a masters in Business and started what might be the final downfall of our economy. Good job Yale, you're doing it wrong...


Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 6:49 p.m.

There is a Zen saying, &quot;Before Enlightenment chop wood carry water, after Enlightenment, chop wood carry water.&quot; No need for ideology here: it's wisdom combined with a reasonable amount of intelligence which is most important. The movie, &quot;Forrest Gump&quot; illustrates that quite well, as do other books and movies. I know geniuses who are real schmucks. I know short order cooks who are princes. Love life, find your purpose and follow it. That helps one chop the wood and carry the water - it's done for a purpose (other than satisfying greed). Getting a college degree has become: learning to please the instructors by following their instructions. That's being &quot;other oriented&quot; carried to an absurd degree. Bush: was a failure long before he ever got elected. People were suckered not by him, but by the people SELLING him. He was their puppet: mouthing ideological slogans. Failed people and countries fall because they try to operate according to a given set of slogans.

Billy Bob Schwartz

Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 5:46 p.m.

I would disagree that IQ as measured by a pencil and paper measuring device is true proof of intelligence. BTW, Dubya would have graduated from Yale in the old days, too. He was a rich kid whose Dad was a power force in American politics. What would have been the chance that he would not have gone to Yale and graduated? I think it's great that lots of people from lots of different places and social standings get a college education in our country. That should be a source of pride. What they do with it after they graduate is up to them. (Ages past, was Lincoln low in intelligence? Just wondering.)

Usual Suspect

Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 4:52 p.m.

It's obvious Columbia University and Harvard Law School lead to an ever worse result.


Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 4:18 p.m.

So that's what's wrong.


Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 4:12 p.m.

'cept book learnin' don't make you smart.


Wed, Nov 23, 2011 : 4:31 a.m.

I'd not sign up to participate on Survivor, preferring the comforts of home. I guess that's what advanced education and a successful career allows. LoL.


Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 11:20 p.m.

Smart comes in all forms....Rob. How many weeks could you survive in the woods with a pocket knife?


Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 8:13 p.m.

It's clear that you believe so.