High school graduates spend most of their senior year preparing for what comes after graduation — college. The number of Idaho graduates who go on to college the fall semester after graduation has been on the decline since 2017.
Last year, even though it was a year of COVID-19, the percentage of graduates who went on to college the fall semester after graduation fell to 38%.
"I think the worry among those who work in higher ed, that the decline would have continued this year as well," said Brian Bava, College of Idaho's VP of Enrollment Management. "Mainly because of uncertainty or lack of confidence of being prepared for college or honestly the ability for people to get pretty good-paying jobs, high school graduate being able to go to amazon or these other places and make 15 dollars an hour. That can be really appealing to a high school senior."
The drop from 2019 to 2020 translates to a decrease of 1,400 students who did not enroll the fall semester after graduation compared to the year before.
"That go on rate is something we are going to be paying very close attention to and if it is another significant drop, I'm hoping that will catch the attention of not just the State Board of Education, but you know, legislators here in the state that something needs to change. Long term that's not great for our state and educated population in our state is really important. I would hate to see to see us lose all of the ground that we have made in the last 5-10 years."
It seems the State Board of Education has taken note. Recently, a direct admission letter went out to more than 20,000 Idaho high school seniors which pre-qualifies a student to attend the state colleges and universities.
"This is a big piece of the state boards push to get more high school seniors to continue their education just by telling students and parents here are your options here is what is available to you right now, all you need to do is apply" said Kevin Richert, of Idaho Ed News.
New go-on rates will be released later this year. Until then it's wait and see if the trend continues or more students decide to go to college.