January 27, 2011 |

Best educated town, per capita, in Alaska?

The Haines Borough has the highest per capita number of college graduates in Alaska, according to information published this week by The Chronicle of Higher Education.

The information, published as a map and article Sunday, shows the percentage of residents in U.S. counties, or county equivalents, holding bachelor’s degrees. It was compiled from data of the U.S. Census Bureau and the Minnesota Population Center, according to the article.

The map says 36.22 percent of the Haines Borough’s 2,424 residents have bachelor’s degrees, making Haines just a tad better educated than Juneau (35.76 percent), and considerably above the state average of 26.52. The national average is 27.53, according to the article.

Other Alaska areas studied include Anchorage, 32.33 percent; Fairbanks, 26.26 percent and Sitka, 26.26. The Aleutians West census area ranked lowest per capita in Alaska in bachelor’s degrees, at 8.48 percent.

Mayor Jan Hill this week said she was thrilled by the Chronicle’s findings, but not surprised. "It’s nice to be recognized for something positive like that. It’s encouraging to get this kind of recognition."

Hill holds a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education and helped launch the local Headstart preschool program.

school board member Sarah Swinton grew up working in her family store on Main Street and now works as its grocery manager. She received her bachelor’s degree in business from Western Oregon University.

Swinton’s parents, husband and brother all hold college degrees. "I told my dad, ‘Why waste your money? I’m still doing what I did at (age) seven.’ He said, ‘The more tools you have in your toolbox, the better off you’ll be in life.’"

"It’s amazing we’re higher than Juneau," Swinton said. "Maybe we all want to be better people or we all wanted to have more tools in our toolbox."

The counties with the highest percentage of residents holding college degrees, according to the map, were Pitkin County, Colo. (including the city of Aspen), 59.07 percent, and Fairfax County, Va. (including Arlington and neighborhoods west of Washington, D.C.), 58.45 percent.