IDAHO — The rate of Idaho high school seniors going on to two- or four-year colleges is declining.
So, Idaho News 6 met with Treasure Valley seniors and career counselors to determine what is most influencing their post-graduation plans.
For Mountain View High School student Batula Omar, 18, the cost of tuition was a critical factor in deciding where she would go to college.
She said attending the College of Western Idaho this fall was "financially, the best move." CWI is a two-year college in Nampa. According to the institutions website, CWI cost $4,884 in annual tuition and books last year.
Having already completed several college-credit courses in high school, Omar said she could finish her associate degree within the first 18 months at CWI. After graduating from the college, she hopes to attend a four-year institution like Boise State University to study kinesiology.
"If you go to like a four-year college, you're still going to have to do your general (credits) the first two years," she said. "I might as well just go the cheaper option, and then my junior and senior year go to university."
CWI enrollment data reports a 3% increase in student population last year — to nearly 29,000.
Skyview High School senior Zoe Contreras considered the cost of university when applying to colleges. However, she said it wasn't the essential factor in her decision.
Contreras' priority, she said, was class size.
"I don't like to get lost in the back of the classroom," she said. "I like to be able to talk with my teachers and have them know who I am and everything."
However, the websites said the cost might be higher — $46,605 — for an incoming freshman.
Contreras plans to study psychology and go out of state for graduate school. To help cover the anticipated potentially six years of college tuition, Contreras said she had applied for scholarships and student loans and would work while in school.
"It just didn't seem realistic to just go straight out of state right out of high school," she said. "Like with paying for myself to go to college and everything. I really just wanted to stay home for a little bit."
AREA OF STUDY
This fall, Meridian High School senior Amaia Stuart will head to C of I. She said the college's unique law program with the University of Idaho that allows students to earn their bachelor's and Juris doctorate in six years swayed her enrollment.
"I like the idea of being able to help people," Stuart said. "I want to make a difference, and I feel I'll be able to in that career field."
Like Contreras, Stuart said class size and cost were also influential in picking an undergraduate program.
"With it being a private institute, it is a lot pricier than I wanted to pay. Especially because I'll still have all my law school fees and stuff after graduating," Stuart said. "I have applied for a lot of scholarships ... I'm now petitioning to live off-campus. That'll save me some more money."
AN ALTERNATIVE ROUTE
Trade school was Mountain View High School senior Hank Wemhoff's, 18, first choice. Starting in June, he plans to enroll at the Northwest Lineman School in Meridian.
Northwest Lineman is a career technical education program that offers certification and training in the power delivery, natural gas, and telecommunications industries.
"I've always liked the blue-collar type of work," Wemhoff said. "I'm not been a big fan of school."
Both Wemhoff's parents and most of his friends went the traditional college route. But he said the quick schooling time – two months – and the ability to get a high-paying job quickly better suits his needs.
Northwest Lineman costs $19,000 per student. According to the website, 76% of graduates leave the program with a job.