As education policies are being reviewed across the country, a recent survey conducted by WalletHub shows us the most educated cities in the U.S. and their not-so-fortunate counterparts. It presents a clear picture of which states and schools districts have been more focused and whose efforts have paid off. The final picture depicts Ann Arbor, home of University of Michigan, to be the winner.

An analysis across 150 large metropolitan areas used varying metrics like quality and size of schools in each area, the percentage of adults with various educational degrees, and the ratio and depth of people working in computer, engineering and science sectors. These are a clear reflection of the regional and academic policies as well as administrative implementations that have led to all-around learning.

It has been noted that sound K-12 curriculum along with higher education degrees create not just an educated populace but a more enterprising one that invests more in the local economy and aids in the indigenous growth of the nation.

The 10 most educated cities in the U.S.:

  1. Ann Arbor, Michigan
  2. Raleigh, North Carolina
  3. Durham, North Carolina
  4. Provo, Utah
  5. Manchester, New Hampshire
  6. Seattle, Washington
  7. San Jose, California
  8. Colorado Springs, Colorado
  9. Baltimore, Maryland
  10. Boston, Massachusetts

The survey has acted as a wake-up call for many cities and school districts. It is the intellectual elite who will determine the city's prosperity as well as economic productivity in the long run.

A deeper look into the study shows why Ann Arbor tops the list. It's not because it churns out most high school graduates but because it holds the highest percentage of adults with a higher education degree and college experience from bachelor's to doctoral and related associate degrees. Even the number of professional degree holders runs higher than other cities, a clear reflection of the impact of a sound school-level education.

So along with number of students who have enrolled in the top 200 universities in the U.S. per capita, there are also criteria like number of doctors per capita and the quality of public schools and universities that matter. Quite a revelation since many thought that some cities in the Northeast would be sure winners.

What is interesting about this find is the underlying education policy that the local administrations have been successful in implementing. They have grasped the bigger picture and have duly motivated their students to strive harder and opt for higher education to excel even further.

This is an important development, one that other cities should take note of and implement as well. In the early 1990s, the U.S. topped the global four-year degree attainment list. Today it has been outpaced by other nations and lags behind at No.12, which is an unacceptable figure for a leading nation.

This education and knowledge gap needs serious attention and work so that more students opt for college courses despite the economic disparities. President Barack Obama's goal to have the highest number of college graduates in the world by 2020 is a veritable mission every city needs to join in.

The survey also points to why the focus on STEM curriculum is so important. The percentage of people working in the fields of science, engineering and medicine is important for innovation as well as industry. Innovation and investments will in turn expand job opportunities across all sectors and boost the nation's competitiveness in the global arena.

Without college degrees, which portray education, intelligence and intellectual capacities of the population, it will be difficult to resuscitate economies, to attract well-paying employers and therefore improve the overall state finances. It is imperative that other cities take note of these findings and rework their policies so that they too can meet the 2020 goal for higher education.