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50 Characteristics Of An Educated Person

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It’s safe to say that most people want to be an educated person.

Last night I was asking myself these two questions: Who is an educated person? What does someone have to know in order to be considered an educated person? Look at the following:

  • Do you need to have an advanced degree in order to be considered well-educated?
  • Does it mean being prepared to join the work force?
  • Are there certain books that you have to have read?

I did some research in order to be able to answer these questions. After reading several lists of the characteristics of an educated person—including Harvard and Princeton University’s lists–I came up with the a list of the 50 characteristics of an educated person.

50 Characteristics of an Educated Person

1. An educated person has the ability to think clearly and independently.

2. An educated person has good judgment.

3. An educated person knows how to learn.

4. An educated person knows how to acquire desired skills by identifying and utilizing available resources, deconstructing the process required for learning a particular skill, and experimenting with potential approaches.

5. An educated person has the ability to take initiative and work alone.

6. An educated person has the ability to communicate thoughts and ideas in writing, clearly and concisely.

7. An educated person has the ability to speak clearly.

8. An educated person has the ability to reason analytically and critically.

9. An educated person has the ability to think inductively and deductively.

10. An educated person questions assumptions.

11. An educated person doesn’t blindly accept what they are told; they go see for themselves. They can discern truth from error, regardless of the source.

12. An educated person knows how to distinguish between relevant and irrelevant information (between the important and the trivial).

13. An educated person knows how to make productive use of knowledge; they know where to get the knowledge that they need, and they have the ability to organize that knowledge into a plan of action that is directed to a definite end.

14. An educated person understands human nature and has the ability to establish, maintain, and improve lasting relationships.

15. An educated person knows how to establish rapport with others; they know how get others to trust and respect them.

16. An educated person knows how to cooperate and collaborate effectively with others.

17. An educated person knows how to resolve conflicts with others.

18. An educated person knows how to persuade others.

19. An educated person has the ability to conceptualize and solve problems.

20. An educated person knows how to make decisions.

21. An educated person has the ability to see connections among disciplines, ideas and cultures.

22. An educated person is able to cross disciplinary boundaries and explore problems and their solutions from multiple perspectives.

23. An educated person is someone who has been educated holistically: creatively, culturally, spiritually, morally, physically, technologically, and intellectually.

24. An educated person has a broad liberal-arts education. They have a good overview of the following subjects: the natural sciences; the social sciences; history; geography; literature; philosophy; and theology.

25. An educated person has depth of knowledge—that is, specialized knowledge–in a particular field.

26. An educated person has achieved victory over themselves; they know how to withstand discomfort in the short term in order to achieve important goals in the long term.

27. An educated person has the capacity to endure and persevere.

28. An educated person is self-aware; they know how to perceive and manage their own internal states and emotions.

29. An educated person knows where and how to focus their attention.

30. An educated person has ethical values and has integrity.

31. An educated person has the ability and the discipline to do what is right.

32. An educated person is well-read and has cultural sophistication.

33. An educated person has equal esteem for everyone, without regard to gender, race, religion, country of origin, and so on.

34. An educated person understands their obligation to leave the world a little better than they found it.

35. An educated person is capable of doing new things; they have the ability to generate ideas and turn them into reality. An educated person is innovative.

36. An educated person is one whose natural curiosity has been awakened with the purpose of satisfying that curiosity.

37. An educated person has the ability to identify needed behaviors and traits and turn them into habits.

38. An educated person has the ability to identify harmful behaviors and traits—including thinking habits that are not serving them well—and the ability to modify them.

39. An educated person has the ability to keep their life in proper balance.

40. An educated person has the flexibility to admit when they’re wrong.

41. An educated person has quantitative literacy; they know how to use arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and statistics to solve problems.

42. An educated person can speak at least one language other than their own.

43. An educated person has financial literacy; they have the knowledge necessary to make sound financial decisions.

44. An educated person is adaptable and knows how to deal with change.

45. An educated person knows how to handle ambiguity.

46. An educated person has the ability to explore alternative viewpoints.

47. An educated person has aesthetic appreciation; they can sing and dance well, play at least one musical instrument, and can appreciate architecture, great art, and other expressions of creative genius.

48. An educated person has developed the personal philosophy that will allow them to be happy and successful.

49. An educated person has the ability and the discipline to constantly improve.

50. An educated person has the ability to pursue lifelong learning.


I consider the 50 characteristics above to be those that are necessary in order to be a well educated person. In turn, being an educated person is an essential prerequisite for living your best life.

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • rAgHaV December 20, 2012, 9:22 pm

    This is a really beautiful compilation of ideas. It drives one to ask if education is what the schools and institutions are about. The underlying reason for all ills of society is education or the lack of it. In a world where children die of hunger and preventable disease while the top 1% of the population makes a financial killing out of Ponzi schemes and is allowed to be free. There is a school of thought that believes it is this contrasting nature of life on Earth that keeps people alive and forever striving to make things better. “…just where to put all your faith, how will it grow…” Eddie Vedder (Into the Wild)

  • Marelisa December 20, 2012, 10:32 pm

    Hi rAgHaV: You raise some interesting points. A lot of the things listed in this post are not taught in school; that’s why we all need to become autodidacts and develop our own curriculum.

  • Brent December 21, 2012, 2:22 am

    An educated person realizes that when someone uses the word “spiritually” or any variation of it, they are either not an educated person, trying to make a claim they cannot substantiate, or both.

  • Ross Galan December 21, 2012, 8:21 am

    From this research of yours, I came to the conclusion that we are all PARTLY educated persons. Could you please let me know if you have ever met someone who has these 50 characteristics you mentioned? I’d love to meet them too. I came to meet the Dalai Lama personally interviewing him for three months, twice weekly. I had also the chance to interview Mother Theresa at my University of Cambridge, but neither of the two, I think, complies these 50). Thanks! – Ross Galan –

  • Marelisa December 21, 2012, 12:42 pm

    Hi Ross: I didn’t mean to imply that if you don’t meet every criteria on the list that you’re not an educated person. I don’t meet all of them and I certainly consider myself to be a very educated person. But one of the things I think we should all do is strive to be life-long learners. So as long as we’re striving to move in that direction, I think we’re fine.

  • hgs December 30, 2012, 11:15 am

    I like your list, but I think it mixes intelligence, emotional intelligence, and what I term uncommon common sense with what can be accomplished through education. It generates the old nature or nurture question in my mind. I intend to spend some time considering your 50 points. Nicely done.

  • Lynn Comstock March 31, 2013, 4:12 pm

    Re: “The underlying reason for all ills of society is education or the lack of it.” Since education or the lack of it are polar opposites, what does this sentence mean?

    I believe that, “The underlying reason for all ills of society” is EGO. We are born isolated by our natural ego-centered perspective. Only the experience of selfless, non-erotic love can overcome this isolation. Selfless love is risky and too often futile. Isolation is safer, but precludes love.

  • Lynn Comstock April 1, 2013, 1:58 am

    Spirituallity is an abstract term used in many ways with different meanings in both the secular world and the religious world. How would you define spirituality?

    Do you consider matter to be the only reality? Does your perception of “spirituallity” have any objective meaning? Is your life (or mine) more meaningful than that of a cockroach?

  • Ken Neth May 22, 2013, 11:47 am

    1. The characteristic of an educated person is that he can acquire facts and figures, correlate them in his mind, and then use them productively.
    2. A person can consider himself to be well-educated only if he has the capacity to endure.
    3. An educated person recognizes the importance of here and now. All too often, we hear of someone who has given up because he or she did not have an opportunity for a formal education, or had not been born into a more “advantageous” place or position.
    4. Each educated person will understand his mission to leave our environment a little better than he found it. A poem written, a garden free of weeds, a motivating sermon, a helpful counseling interview—all these make a difference.
    5. An educated person respects facts and truth and seeks to see things as they really are.
    6. An educated person, because of the great knowledge that has been poured out in this millennium, has a broader duty to use the knowledge given than almost anyone who has ever lived. The more we learn the more responsibility we must assume.
    7. An appreciation of the arts and an appreciation of extraordinary effort also are characteristics of the educated person. Education should teach us both how to live and how to appreciate.
    8. An educated person is characterized by deeper integrity and morality.

  • Mark Joseph A. Loreno October 12, 2014, 4:14 am

    the article was help me to be An Educated by the examples above.

    my advice to others is practice the examples at the above so that can help you be more well educated

  • sisti damas November 15, 2014, 2:52 am

    i just need some more explanation on the characteristics above

  • Mboyo Olais November 15, 2014, 10:29 am

    According to concise oxford English dictionary; a person is a human being regarded as an individual or an individual characterized by a preference or liking for a specified thing.
    One need not to get formal education to be an educated person,
    Can a child be an educated person? How about mental impaired people.
    I think an educated person is the one who is compacted with wisdom of reasoning, questioning and apply his/her skills to fit himself/herself in the society.