Catawba County is home to an educated and skilled workforce of 250,000.

Education and technical training continue to be high priorities for Catawba County.  This commitment is evidenced by the presence of three public school systems — Catawba County Schools, Hickory City Schools and Newton-Conover City Schools — in addition to 12 private schools.  In 2015, Newton-Conover City Schools achieved the highest graduation rate in the history of North Carolina at 97.1% and has ranked among the top five highest graduation rates in the State of North Carolina for the past three years.  Catawba County Schools' St. Stephens High School won the National Beta Convention senior division Quiz Bowl championship in 2017.

K-12 Public School Enrollment - 2015-2016
District Classroom Teachers Enrollment
Catawba County Schools 1,037 16,333
Hickory City Schools 293 4,258
Newton-Conover City Schools 200 2,988
Source:  NC Department of Public Instruction, NC Schools Report Card
K-12 Non-Public School Enrollment - 2015-2016
  Staff Enrollment
Non-Public Schools 212 1,441
Source:  NC Dept. of Admin., Div. of Non-Public Educ., 2016 Directory of Non-Public Schools

Students at one of Catawba County's 43 public schools study math equations.

Public Schools SAT Scores - 2016
  #Tested %Tested Math CR Writing M+CR M+CR+W
US 1,305,158 45.8 494 487 472 981 1453
NC 54,663 58.2 508 502 475 1010 1485
Catawba 602 52.4 512 495 457 1007 1464
Hickory 135 57.4 505 506 477 1011 1488
Newton-
Conover
109 46.6 478 467 434 945 1379
Source:  NC Department of Public Instruction, The NC SAT Report, 2015
Public School Post High School Intentions - 2014-2015
  Catawba Hickory Newton-
Conover
      Total
Public Sr. Institution 430 67 60 557
Private Sr. Institution 117 36 35 188
Community College 505 98 94 697
Trade Business School 15 - - 15
Military 43 8 - 15 
Employment 123 33 13 169
Other 23 - - 23
Totals 1,256 242 202 1,700
Source:  NC Department of Public Instruction, Statistical Profile for 2014-15

 

Higher Education

An increased focus on higher education is seen in the development of the Appalachian State University Center at Hickory, a collaborative effort between Appalachian State University and Catawba County's two existing higher education institutes, Lenoir-Rhyne University and Catawba Valley Community College.

Lenoir-Rhyne University students take a break on the lawn outside the student center.

As mentioned above, Catawba County is home to Lenoir Rhyne University, a four-year liberal arts school and Catawba Valley Community College. Additionally, the Appalachian State University Center at Hickory is a joint education center offering graduate and undergraduate degrees, non-credit certificate courses, research, and specialized workforce training through such universities as Appalachian State University, NC State University, and the University of North Carolina. The new NC Center for Engineering Technologies provides facilities for applied research in engineering related fields and serves as a conduit to baccalaureate education delivered by the University of North Carolina system schools.

Colleges & Universities within 50 miles of Catawba County
2015-2016
Institution  City Enrollment Distance
University of NC Campuses
Appalachian State University (ASU) Boone 16,290 43
UNC - Charlotte Charlotte 22,732 50
Community Colleges (Curriculum Enrollment)
Caldwell CC & TI Hudson 4,921 11
Catawba Valley CC Hickory 5,931 -
Cleveland CC Shelby 4,001 44
Central Piedmont CC Charlotte 27,875 46
Gaston College Dallas 7,579 22
McDowell CC Marion 1,513 46
Mitchell CC Statesville 4,171 17
Rowan-Cabarrus CC Salisbury 7,586 46
Western Piedmont CC Morganton 2,56 20
Independent Colleges and Universities
Belmont Abbey College Belmont 1,495 33
Cabarrus College of Health Sciences Concord 431 43
Catawba College Salisbury 1,270 43
Davidson College Davidson 1,784 32
Gardner-Webb University Boiling Spring 2,615 40
ASU Center at Hickory Hickory 225 -
Johnson C. Smith University Charlotte 1,375 44
Lenoir-Rhyne University Hickory 1,587 -
Livingstone College Salisbury 1,262 46
NC Ctr for Eng. Tech. Hickory 96 -
Pfeiffer University Charlotte 917 47
Queens University of Charlotte Charlotte 1,641 47
Source:  NC Community College System, Annual Statistical Report; USNews.com, Best Colleges