Nebraska is far from a dumb state – in fact, based on the data we looked at, Nebraska’s high schools have a dropout rate nearly 3 times lower than the national average.
On top of that, a recent study published by The Washington Post found that Nebraska is actually the twelfth smartest state in America, with above average scores in every intelligence metric.
But that doesn’t mean that a few cities in Nebraska are a bit slower than others, due to a lack of basic education.
After crunching the numbers, we came up with this list of the ten dumbest cities in the Cornhusker State:
- South Sioux City
- Grand Island
- Nebraska City
- North Platte
How we determined the dumbest cities in the Cornhusker State
We realize that formal education isn’t everything when it comes to being smart, but on the other hand not knowing the difference between they’re, their, and there is always going to make you look pretty stupid.
So we narrowed down our criteria to focus both on a city’s educational opportunities and what percentage of the population takes advantage of those opportunities.
In short, we came up with these criteria to determine the dumbest cities in Nebraska:
- % of city’s population with less than a high school education (Age 25+)
- % of high school dropouts (Ages 16-19)
In order to measure the education levels of the following cities, we used the U.S. Census 2009-2014 American Community Survey.
Note: We only looked at cities with populations greater than 5,000, leaving us 32 cities in Nebraska to rank. We also looked at the graduation rates of the entire population, not the current rates for high schoolers.
1. South Sioux City
Adults Without High School Diploma: 34.3%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 15.5%
Located in northeastern Nebraska, directly across the Missouri River from Sioux City, Iowa, South Sioux City is the dumbest place in the state by a wide margin.
South Sioux City has the highest rate of teenage high school dropouts in the state, with 15.5% of students dropping out each year.
That’s nearly three times as high as the dropout rate for the second worst city in Nebraska, and six times higher than the state average for cities with populations over 5,000.
On top of that, South Sioux City has the third highest rate of uneducated adults in Nebraska, with more than 1 in 3 adults lacking a GED. All of this makes for the dumbest city in Nebraska overall.
2. Grand Island
Adults Without High School Diploma: 18.7%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 3.1%
The fourth biggest city in Nebraska, Grand Island is also the second dumbest city in the state.
How’d Grand Island earn this ignominious title? Mostly by having the fifth highest rate of uneducated adults in the state, with 18.7% of residents over the age of 25 lacking a high school diploma.
The dropout rate in Grand Island is only 0.6% higher than the average for Nebraskan cities we looked at data for, but it’s still bad enough to land Grand Island high up on dumb-list.
Adults Without High School Diploma: 13.7%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 3.6%
Located in eastern Nebraska, Fremont is the third dumbest city in Nebraska overall.
Both Fremont’s GED-less adult population and current rate of teenage high school dropouts are about 1% higher than the state average, and both rank in the bottom 10 for the state.
The cumulatively bad score leaves Fremont as a relatively dim city.
4. Nebraska City
Adults Without High School Diploma: 10.9%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 5.5%
Another city located in the eastern part of the state, Nebraska City is located on the western bank of the Missouri River.
Nebraska City has the second highest rate of teenage high school dropouts in the state, with 5.5% of students leaving high school each year. Though this rate is still below the national average, it’s more than twice as high as Nebraska’s statewide average.
Also, about 11 of every 100 adults living in Nebraska City never completed high school, so the older generation also makes it a relatively dumb place to live.
Adults Without High School Diploma: 12.2%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 4.0%
Omaha is the largest city in Nebraska, but, unfortunately, it’s also the fifth dumbest city in the state.
Omaha ranks in the bottom 25% for each of our dumbness metrics, with 12.2% of adults lacking a high school degree.
The city also the seventh highest rate of teenagers dropping out of high school in the state, with 4% of students leaving basic education each year.
But, the city is home to five Fortune 500 companies, so it might be doing something right.
Adults Without High School Diploma: 28.1%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 2.3%
Located in the southeastern part of the state, Crete is the sixth dumbest city overall, but it has way more uneducated adults than most of the cities in the top five.
28.1%, more than double the state average, of adults lack a GED, making Crete one of the worst places in Nebraska to start a book club.
The only thing that saves Crete from a higher position on this list is its middle-of-the-pack teenage high school dropout rate, which is actually 0.2% lower than the state average.
Adults Without High School Diploma: 45.2%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 1.6%
Located along U.S. Route 30 and the Union Pacific Railroad, Lexington ranks as the seventh dumbest city overall in Nebraska.
Lexington has the second highest rate of uneducated adults in the state, with a whopping 45.2% of adults lacking a GED.
Since 45 of every 100 adults in Lexington never completed high school, you can bet the city’s adult residents don’t know many answers when they’re watching Jeopardy.
On the other hand, Lexington also has the twelfth lowest teenage high school dropout rate in the state, with only 1.6% of high schoolers dropping out each year. So you can also bet that the next generation will slowly improve Lexington’s smartness score.
8. North Platte
Adults Without High School Diploma: 9.9%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 5.1%
A railroad town in the southwestern portion of Nebraska, North Platte is actually way ahead of the state average in terms of educated adults – about 3% more adults have their GEDs in North Platte than the rest of Nebraska.
But the city does have a problem with keeping teenagers in high school; with 5.1% of teens dropping out each year, North Platte has the fifth highest dropout rate in the state, and more than doubles the state average.
Adults Without High School Diploma: 45.4%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 0.0%
Schuyler’s a funny city to measure in terms of intelligence – it’s adult population is the least educated in the state, but it’s current dropout rate is really good.
45.4% of residents over the age of 25 in Schuyler lack a high school diploma, which is between three and four times worse than the state average.
Yet, with absolutely no teenagers reportedly dropping out of high school, Schuyler has the widest imaginable gap between the intelligence of its adult population and its up-and-coming generation. In other words, the city can only get smarter from here.
We we know, no city is perfect, so the dropout rate number might be a fudged.
Adults Without High School Diploma: 16.2%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 1.9%
Located in the Great Plains region of the U.S., Scottsbluff is the largest city in the Nebraska Panhandle, and is home to several college campuses.
1.9% of Scottsbluff’s teenagers won’t be able to attend these colleges though, since they’ve opted out of completing basic education. That’s not the real intelligence problem facing the city though.
Having the sixth highest rate of uneducated adults (16.2%) is the real problem. But again, the future generation will improve upon this score immensely in the years to come.
Putting a dunce cap on our analysis
If you’re measuring the locations in Nebraska where there are a high number of teenage dropouts and adults who never received a formal education, this is an accurate list.
If you’re curious, here are the smartest cities in Nebraska, in order: Gretna, Sidney, Chadron, Holdrege, and York. These cities are well spread out over the state, so there doesn’t seem to be a correlation between geography and intelligence in Nebraska.
Other notable cities: Nebraska’s capital, Lincoln, ranks as the 11th smartest city in the state, with better than average rates of education in both generations.
Bellevue narrowly beats out Lincoln, ranking as the 10th smartest city in the state, with a slightly lower teenage dropout rate than the capital, but a slightly higher rate of uneducated adults.
Kearney is barely smarter than both of these cities, ranking as the 9th smartest city in Nebraska, with a higher dropout rate than Bellevue and Lincoln, but a more educated adult population.
We also studied what might be the 10 most redneck cities in Nebraska if you wanted to read that study.
Detailed List Of Dumbest Cities In Nebraska
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