These Are The 10 Dumbest Cities In Virginia


We used science and data to determine which Commonwealth cities are dumb as rocks.

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Recently, the Washington Post published a study on the smartest states in America.

In the categories of SAT scores and college graduation rate, Virginia ranked as the 13th smartest state in America, a little brighter than North Dakota, but a little dumber than Nebraska.

We’ll be looking at high school completion rates rather than college-related metrics of smartness, for the sake of figuring out which cities in Virginia are contributing to Virginia’s stupidity more than the rest.

After crunching the numbers, we came up with this list of the ten dumbest cities in the Old Dominion:

  1. Emporia (Photos)
  2. Rocky Mount (Photos)
  3. Luray (Photos)
  4. Petersburg (Photos)
  5. Franklin (Photos)
  6. Richlands (Photos)
  7. Marion (Photos)
  8. Orange (Photos)
  9. South Boston (Photos)
  10. Colonial Beach (Photos)

For more Virginia reading, check out:

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How we determined the dumbest cities in the Old Dominion

In order to rank the dumbest cities in Virginia, we had to determine what criteria defines a dumb person.

We started by making a list of every place in the U.S. with over 5,000 adults based on the 2014 American Community Survey. That left us with 78 places to rank. We then looked at the following dumb-tastic criteria for each of the places on the list:

  • % of city’s population with less than a high school education (Age 25+)
  • % of high school Dropouts (Ages 16-19)

Note: We also looked at the graduation rates of the entire population, not the current rates for high schoolers.

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1. Emporia

Dumbest Virginia

Source: Public domain

Population: 3,843
Adults Without High School Diploma: 30.2%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 16.8%

When you look at the raw data, Emporia, way out on I-95 in the southern part of the state, is technically the dumbest city in Virginia.

The number of adults without a high school diploma is the 2nd highest in the state, and twice as high as the state average. Same goes for the high school dropout rate. So, when you add it all up, it’s both the adults and the kids who are to blame to Emporia’s educational woes.

2. Rocky Mount

Dumbest Virginia

Population: 3,608
Adults Without High School Diploma: 26.7%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 16.0%

Nearly 4% more of Rocky Mount’s adult population has a high school diploma by the age of 25, but they are still far behind when it comes to overall educational prowess, when compared to the rest of the state.

And like Emporia, the kids just refuse to stay in school. Their dropout rate is the 3rd highest in Virginia.

Rocky Mount is south of Roanoke.

3. Luray

Dumbest Virginia

Population: 3,442
Adults Without High School Diploma: 26.7%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 10.4%

Way out in the Shenandoah Valley you’ll find Luray, a smallish place that’s way behind, educationally. The adult population is the 3rd least educated in the Commonwealth.

However, the teens seem to be picking up the slack. While still 6% below the state average, the dropout rate is still far lower here than it is in the cities listed below.

4. Petersburg

Dumbest Virginia

Population: 22,015
Adults Without High School Diploma: 23.9%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 10.1%

Petersburg adults are the 6th least educated, and the high schools are the 9th least educated, in compared to all 78 cities we measured. That puts this medium-sized city just a short drive south of Richmond towards the top of this list.

5. Franklin

Dumbest Virginia

Source: Public domain

Population: 5,605
Adults Without High School Diploma: 21.9%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 15.5%

Franklin’s adult population is 2% smarter than those in Petersburg, however, the teen dropout rate is far higher. As a matter of fact, with more than 15% of Franklin’s current teens currently not attending class, they have the 4th least educated generation about to enter the workforce here, which is a problem that might loom larger here in a few short years.

Franklin is a relatively rural area west of Suffolk.

6. Richlands

Dumbest Virginia

Source: Public domain

Population: 3,894
Adults Without High School Diploma: 22.8%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 7.7%

The high school kids (ages 16-19) aren’t the problem in Richlands. While a 7.7% dropout rate is the 14th highest in the state, it’s only about 2% above the state average.

It’s the adults that need to hit the books. More than 1 in 4 residents above the age of 25 is walking around without a GED in this small city located in Tazewell County, in the far western side of the state.

7. Marion

Dumbest Virginia

Population: 4,628
Adults Without High School Diploma: 20.4%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 12.9%

At nearly 13%, the teens in Marion have the 5th highest dropout rate in the state of Virginia. But the parents can’t blame them; they are more uneducated that the kids are. 1 in 4 Marion adults is without a high school equivalent, which is 4% higher than the state average, and the 21st highest rate in Virginia.

8. Orange

Dumbest Virginia

Source: Public domain

Population: 3,276
Adults Without High School Diploma: 19.0%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 36.8%

The kids in the town of Orange are simply failing. At 36%, the dropout rate is by far the highest in the state, and one of the highest rates we’ve seen. That’s nearly five times higher than the state average.

Orange is a speck of a place halfway between Charlottesville and Fredericksburg.

This is the only city on this list where the teens are less educated than the adults. That’s a long-term problem that Orange will have to cope with soon.

9. South Boston

Dumbest Virginia

Population: 5,653
Adults Without High School Diploma: 20.2%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 12.9%

South Boston’s adults are just about as uneducated as those in Orange. However, the high school-aged population is much more educated.

But still, at 13%, that’s 5% below the state average, good for the 6th highest dropout rate in the state of Virginia.

10. Colonial Beach

Dumbest Virginia

Population: 2,691
Adults Without High School Diploma: 21.6%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 8.9%

Colonial Beach is a bit of an outlier here. On the coast of the Potomac River, it’s the only city on this list that’s not isolated in the middle, eastern or southern part of the state.

While the adults are way behind, education wise, the high school kids are ‘only’ .4% behind the state dropout average of 8.9%.

Believe it or not, but the Virginia state average for adults without a high school degree is 16%.

Putting a dunce cap on our analysis

If you’re measuring the locations in Virginia 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 Virginia: Blacksburg, Vienna, Falls Church, West Point and Poquoson.

Other cities of note:

Fairfax: 8th smartest (8% of adults are without a diploma)

Virginia Beach: 9th smartest (6.5% of adults are without a diploma)

Bristol is the 17th dumbest, and Richmond is the 20th dumbest.

Detailed List Of Dumbest Cities In Virginia

City Rank Population Adults Without High School Diploma Teenage High School Dropouts
Emporia 1 3,843 30.2% 16.8%
Rocky Mount 2 3,608 26.7% 16.0%
Luray 3 3,442 26.7% 10.4%
Petersburg 4 22,015 23.9% 10.1%
Franklin 5 5,605 21.9% 15.5%
Richlands 6 3,894 22.8% 7.7%
Marion 7 4,628 20.4% 12.9%
Orange 8 3,276 19.0% 36.8%
South Boston 9 5,653 20.2% 12.9%
Colonial Beach 10 2,691 21.6% 8.9%
Pulaski 11 6,599 23.5% 4.5%
Norton 12 2,663 21.0% 8.0%
Martinsville 13 9,559 22.5% 4.9%
Hopewell 14 14,838 19.8% 6.6%
Vinton 15 5,494 18.6% 9.6%
Tazewell 16 3,191 22.7% 2.9%
Bristol 17 12,435 19.1% 5.0%
Buena Vista 18 4,172 23.1% 2.1%
Danville 19 29,264 21.2% 3.5%
Richmond 20 139,277 17.6% 7.1%
Big Stone Gap 21 3,969 32.6% 0.0%
Front Royal 22 10,136 16.8% 6.2%
Portsmouth 23 63,228 17.4% 5.1%
Waynesboro 24 14,347 15.4% 10.4%
Galax 25 4,996 25.7% 0.0%
Roanoke 26 68,034 16.7% 5.7%
Blackstone 27 2,593 23.8% 0.0%
Covington 28 3,992 17.7% 3.7%
Dumfries 29 3,163 23.1% 0.0%
Woodstock 30 3,264 22.5% 0.0%
Herndon 31 16,484 16.1% 4.9%
Wytheville 32 6,272 21.7% 0.0%
Lebanon 33 2,558 21.6% 0.0%
Altavista 34 2,582 19.6% 0.0%
Christiansburg 35 14,536 8.7% 10.0%
Manassas Park 36 9,785 18.9% 0.0%
Staunton 37 16,952 14.8% 4.0%
Winchester 38 17,755 16.7% 1.9%
Broadway 39 2,329 18.6% 0.0%
Norfolk 40 147,486 13.4% 4.3%
Suffolk 41 56,441 12.9% 4.5%
Lexington 42 2,389 18.0% 0.0%
Harrisonburg 43 23,420 16.2% 1.8%
Culpeper 44 10,372 17.7% 0.0%
Manassas 45 25,239 17.3% 0.4%
South Hill 46 3,222 17.6% 0.0%
Alexandria 47 111,478 8.7% 5.5%
Berryville 48 2,969 17.1% 0.0%
Warrenton 49 6,682 9.1% 4.5%
Ashland 50 4,188 16.5% 0.0%
Leesburg 51 29,015 11.4% 2.7%
Newport News 52 114,288 11.2% 3.1%
Abingdon 53 5,964 16.2% 0.0%
Clifton Forge 54 2,808 16.2% 0.0%
Smithfield 55 5,599 10.2% 3.3%
Bluefield 56 3,790 16.1% 0.0%
Hampton 57 89,527 10.6% 2.2%
Lynchburg 58 43,722 12.7% 1.7%
Bridgewater 59 3,270 11.0% 1.9%
Strasburg 60 4,447 15.2% 0.0%
Chincoteague 61 2,326 15.0% 0.0%
Radford 62 6,977 12.1% 0.9%
Charlottesville 63 26,533 11.3% 1.3%
Farmville 64 3,576 13.5% 0.2%
Wise 65 2,178 13.7% 0.0%
Colonial Heights 66 12,033 12.8% 0.0%
Chesapeake 67 149,636 9.0% 1.6%
Salem 68 16,784 10.4% 0.7%
Purcellville 69 4,964 4.6% 2.3%
Fredericksburg 70 15,482 8.7% 0.8%
Virginia Beach 71 294,652 6.6% 1.9%
Fairfax 72 16,327 8.3% 0.0%
Williamsburg 73 7,128 8.1% 0.0%
Poquoson 74 8,363 7.3% 0.0%
West Point 75 2,293 7.2% 0.0%
Falls Church 76 8,744 3.2% 0.5%
Vienna 77 10,881 6.6% 0.0%
Blacksburg 78 14,467 3.5% 0.2%

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6 thoughts on “These Are The 10 Dumbest Cities In Virginia

  1. I am writing to you in reference to your Facebook article “These are the ten dumbest
    cities in Virginia” of which Luray is number three. First of all Luray is a small
    rural town, not a city. I have taught at Luray High School for 20 years. It is in
    the county of Page and is one of two high schools in the county. Page County school
    division has one of the highest on time graduation rates and one of the lowest
    dropout rates in the state of Virginia, contrary to what your article reports. We
    are a poor county but Luray High School has always been fully accredited and has
    always made all the goals to meet the No Child Left Behind adequate yearly progress
    (AYP). I am saddened that you would find pleasure in labeling our town as one of the
    dumbest in Virginia. Our graduates have been accepted and graduated from Ivy League
    universities as well as other universities on the eastern coast. We have produced
    doctors, architects, politicians, engineers, attorneys, college professors and more.
    I see no entertainment value in belittling Luray and the other towns and cities you
    included in this article. It is sad that you seek out the bad and not the good!

  2. This is NOT about the “city” at all. IF you look at the list, it is a list of where the public school systems are located and that is what the author is REALLY talking about; not the city. Plus, not all of the school systems are listed, so why were these the only ones to be singled out? One really needs to question why this was written. What are the outcomes the author is expecting? What are his motives?

  3. They need to recheck Martinsville again. Being #13 is a compliment. It should be in the top 5 in this case! Martinsville is full of dense acting people, even if they did graduate! This list should be done again!

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