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. In May 2018, Newton-Conover City School's Discovery High School in Newton received a silver medal from U.S. News & World Report in their ranking of the top U.S. public high schools, finishing in the top 10% across the nation.

K-12 Public School Enrollment - 2016-2017
District Classroom Teachers Enrollment
Catawba County Schools 1,013 16,332
Hickory City Schools 293 4,211
Newton-Conover City Schools 192 3,026
Source:  NC Department of Public Instruction, NC Schools Report Card
K-12 Non-Public School Enrollment - 2017-2018
  Staff Enrollment
Non-Public Schools 250 1,601
Source:  NC Dept. of Admin., Div. of Non-Public Educ., 2017 Directory of Non-Public Schools

Students at one of Catawba County's 43 public schools study math equations. - Photo by Eckard Photographic

Public Schools SAT Scores - 2017
  #Tested %Tested Math ERW Total
US 1,426,258 NA 517 527 1044
NC 44,325 44 532 542 1074
Catawba 499 40.3 547 545 1092
Hickory 111 47.6 537 537 1074
Newton-
Conover
110 44.5 538 556 1094
Source:  NC Department of Public Instruction, The NC SAT Report, 2017
Public School Post High School Intentions - 2016-2017
  Catawba Hickory Newton-
Conover
      Total
Public Sr. Institution 355 89 71 515
Private Sr. Institution 145 31 23 199
Community College 545 109 124 778
Trade Business School 21 2 3 26
Military 58 12 8 78 
Employment 150 19 19 188
Other 19 1 - 20
Totals 1,293 263 248 1,804
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
University of NC Campuses (2016-2017)
 Institution  City Enrollment  Distance 
Appalachian State University (ASU) Boone 16,595 43
UNC - Charlotte Charlotte 23,404 50
Community Colleges (2017-2018)
Institution City Curriculum Enrollment Curriculum & Continuing Educ. Distance
Caldwell CC & TI Hudson 3,560 6,875 11
Catawba Valley CC Hickory 4,855 8,874 -
Cleveland CC Shelby 2,704 5,232 44
Central Piedmont CC Charlotte 19,621 33,578 46
Gaston College Dallas 5,545 10,486 22
McDowell CC Marion 1,070 3,824 46
Mitchell CC Statesville 3,208 5,944 17
Rowan-Cabarrus CC Salisbury 5,848 6,478 46
Western Piedmont CC Morganton 1,839 5,098 20
Independent Colleges and Universities (2016-2017)
Institution City Enrollment Distance
Belmont Abbey College Belmont 1,523 33
Cabarrus College of Health Sciences Concord 443 43
Catawba College Salisbury 1,297 43
Davidson College Davidson 1,796 32
Gardner-Webb University Boiling Spring 2,362 40
ASU Center at Hickory Hickory Seated - 105 -
    Online - 842 -
Johnson C. Smith University Charlotte 1,326 44
Lenoir-Rhyne University Hickory 2,005 -
Livingstone College Salisbury 1,204 46
NC Ctr for Eng. Tech. Hickory 50 -
Pfeiffer University Charlotte 1,089 47
Queens University of Charlotte Charlotte 1,617 47
Source:  NC Community College System, Annual Statistical Report; USNews.com, Best Colleges