These Are The 10 Dumbest Cities In North Carolina


We used science and data to determine which of North Carolina’s cities are dumb as rocks.

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This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. Don’t freak out.

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Let’s face it: some places are magnificently stupid.

But how are you supposed to know which places are dummy-central before you go there yourself?

You dig around the data and look for things that make a place stupid, whether it’s because a large portion of a city’s population never completed high school, or the up-and-coming generation doesn’t have enough schools or teachers.

After crunching the numbers, we came up with this list of the ten dumbest cities in the Tar Heel State:

  1. Kannapolis (Photos)
  2. Thomasville (Photos)
  3. Wilson (Photos)
  4. Cornelius (Photos)
  5. Burlington (Photos)
  6. Cary (Photos)
  7. Gastonia (Photos)
  8. Charlotte (Photos)
  9. Asheboro (Photos)
  10. Huntersville (Photos)

For more North Carolina reading, check out:

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How we determined the dumbest places in North Carolina

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 North Carolina:

  • % of city’s population with less than a high school education
  • Public schools per capita
  • Private schools per capita
  • Student teacher ratio

Note: We only looked at cities with populations greater than 5,000, leaving us 94 cities in North Carolina to rank. We also looked at the graduation rates of the entire population, not the current rates for high schoolers.

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1. Kannapolis

Dumbest Cities In North Carolina

Population: 42,845
Dropout rate: 25.4%
Public schools per capita rank: Bottom 15%
Private schools per capita rank: Bottom 2%

According to the data, Kannapolis is the dumbest place in North Carolina overall, mostly due to its lack of schools.

Kannapolis only has one private school in a town of 42,845, making it the city with the least private schools per capita. And it’s not like the city makes up for it with an abundance of public schools, because Kannapolis also has among the least public schools per capita.

With so few places to get an education in Kannapolis, it isn’t surprising that more than a quarter of the city is walking around without a high school education. By the looks of it, the city is the dumbest in North Carolina now, and plans on staying that way through the next generation.

2. Thomasville

Dumbest Cities In North Carolina

Population: 26,760
Dropout rate: 32.4%
Private schools per capita rank: Bottom 25%
Student-teacher ratio rank: Bottom 5%

Next stop on the stupid train is Thomasville, a city where nearly a third of the residents failed to complete high school, which is one of the worst rates in North Carolina.

Even if you’re trying your best to be smart here, the horrendous 20:1 student-teacher ratio is going to make things tough for you.

On top of having the fourth worst student-teacher ratio in the state and the seventh worst GED completion rate, Thomasville is also in the bottom 25% in state for private schools per capita, so there’s really nowhere to get ahead.

Thomasville also has a huge chair on display and boasts of having the “world’s largest chair” even though several larger ones have been built. We just wanted to emphasize our point here.

3. Wilson

Dumbest Cities In North Carolina

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 49,086
Dropout rate: 25.7%
Private schools per capita rank: Bottom 30%
Student-teacher ratio rank: Bottom 5%

The main reason why Wilson ranks so high on the stupid scale is its 23:1 student-teacher ratio, which ties for the second worst in North Carolina.

Being in the bottom 30% for both high school completion rate and private schools per capita just adds icing to the cake.

When a quarter of your population thought that anything after algebra was too advanced to be worth learning, you might want to reflect on your priorities as a city.

4. Cornelius

Dumbest Cities In North Carolina

Source: Public domain

Population: 24,818
Dropout rate: 7.4%
Public schools per capita rank: Bottom 5%
Private schools per capita rank: Bottom 5%
Student-teacher ratio rank: Bottom 5%

Cornelius is a very different breed of stupid city compared to the top three; its high school graduation rate is actually the tenth best in the state.

Yet in every other category, Cornelius receives F’s: the worst public schools per capita in the state (only one in a town of over 20,000), the fifth worst private schools per capita, and the very worst student-teacher ratio in North Carolina.

And this terrible student-teacher ratio isn’t just slightly worse than the rest of the state; the 32:1 ratio is 40% worse than the second worst, and more than twice as bad as the state average.

5. Burlington

Dumbest Cities In North Carolina

Population: 50,355
Dropout rate: 23.2%
Public schools per capita rank: Bottom 25%
Private schools per capita rank: Bottom 15%

The fact that Burlington’s 23.2% high school graduation rate is only the 40th worst in the state makes me worry about North Carolina’s future, but in relative terms, Burlington doesn’t fare too poorly in this category.

As far as providing an adequate amount of schools, however, Burlington is near the bottom of the barrel for both public and private options.

There are only three private schools in a town of over 50,000, which is the 10th worst private schools available per capita in North Carolina.

6. Cary

Dumbest Cities In North Carolina

Population: 136,627

Dropout rate: 6.6%
Public schools per capita rank: Bottom 5%
Private schools per capita rank: Bottom 5%
Student-teacher ratio rank: Bottom 20%

Clearly, Cary’s not on this list because of its current generation of alumni; 93.4% of folks walking around Cary have graduated high school, which is actually the sixth highest rate in North Carolina.

When it comes to investing in the future, though, Cary is way behind; the city has the second least private school options per capita, the fourth lowest public schools per capita, and is near the bottom of the barrel in terms of student-teacher ratio.

Only having 18 total schools in a city of over 135,000 and a 16:1 student-teacher ratio is not a recipe for ensuring a well-educated populace down the road.

7. Gastonia

Dumbest Cities In North Carolina

Source: Public domain

Population: 71,865
Dropout rate: 25%
Private schools per capita rank: Bottom 20%
Student-teacher ratio rank: Bottom 33%

Gastonia isn’t a terribly stupid place in any one category, but being in the bottom 35% of all four makes for a pretty bad cumulative score.

Gastonia’s biggest stupid-booster is its lack of private schools – the 17th worst per capita in North Carolina.

Other than that, all its scores are in the D to F range, which, in a city where a quarter of the people have less than a high school degree, makes for one of the dumbest places in North Carolina.

8. Charlotte

Dumbest Cities In North Carolina

Population: 740,931
Dropout rate: 14.5%
Public schools per capita rank: Bottom 10%
Private schools per capita rank: Bottom 25%
Student-teacher ratio rank: Bottom 20%

One of the fastest growing cities in America also turns out to be one of the dumbest – which begs the question whether the new residents are infecting Charlotte with their stupidity, or slowly diluting the fog of witlessness.

In any case, Charlotte has the 9th fewest public schools per capita, and ties for one of the worst student-teacher ratios in the state.

On the other hand, Charlotte residents are much better than folks in most cities in North Carolina when it comes to finishing high school, which helps keep Charlotte out of the top five.

9. Asheboro

Dumbest Cities In North Carolina

Population: 25,109
Dropout rate: 31.6%
Private schools per capita rank: Bottom 25%
Student-teacher ratio rank: Bottom 33%

The percentage of Asheboro residents with less than a high school degree is 58% higher than the national average, and the 11th worst of any city in North Carolina.

Other than that, Asheboro has just below average scores in student-teacher ratio and private schools per capita, which makes for a slightly stupid city altogether.

10. Huntersville

Dumbest Cities In North Carolina

Population: 46,656
Dropout rate: 7.2%
Public schools per capita rank: Bottom 10%
Student-teacher ratio rank: Bottom 5%

Two problems ail Huntersville: A very poor student-teacher ratio, and a severe lack of public schools (seven in a city of over 45,000).

The student-teacher ratio of 23:1 is tied for the second worst in state, but a healthy amount of private school options keep Huntersville at the bottom of this list.

Huntersville has 12.8% more high school graduates than the national average. Which is something to build on.

Closing the books

So when you crunch the numbers, those are the dumbest cities in North Carolina.

If you’re curious, here are the five smartest cities in North Carolina:

1. Hillsborough
2. Reidsville
3. Morganton
4. Southern Pines
5. Brevard

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