BOISE, Idaho – Jan. 8, 2016 – Results of a new University of Idaho study released today begin to shed light on why nearly half of Idaho’s high school graduates do not go immediately on to postsecondary education. The statewide survey, “Life after High School,” will help higher education leaders across the state better understand why Idaho continues to fall at or near the bottom of all states for college “go on” rates.
The study was commissioned by UI President Chuck Staben as he continues to drive the message that every qualified Idaho student should have the opportunity for postsecondary education. It demonstrates the university’s mission to understand and meet the needs of the state’s residents.
“This new study is a valuable resource that will help our state understand the challenges we face in promoting postsecondary attendance,” Staben said. “We are deeply invested in addressing this issue, and this study gives us up-to-date information to create effective policy and guide decision-making, as one key part of continuing to build an educated and prosperous Idaho.”
Immediate financial needs are one of the reasons Idaho high school students surveyed cited for not enrolling in postsecondary education. This seems to hold true more for males than females and could help explain why more females than males are enrolling in postsecondary education — 53 percent of females and 38 percent of males of the 2014 graduating class were enrolled in the fall of 2014.
The UI James A. & Louise McClure Center for Public Policy Research surveyed 385 young adults who graduated from an Idaho public high school in the spring of 2015.
Key findings from the study include:
- More females than males are enrolling in postsecondary education. This is true among the McClure Center survey respondents, in Idaho generally and in the U.S. as a whole.
- Males and females think differently about life after high school. Among survey respondents, a higher percentage of males than females said the most important thing in deciding about life after high school was “making money.” In contrast, more females than males cited “expanding horizons” as their most important consideration.
- Not all young adults in Idaho believe postsecondary education pays off. Only two-thirds of survey respondents strongly agreed that more education would help them get a better job. The rest had at least some doubt.
“This study is the first systematic effort to understand how Idaho’s young adults decide what to do after high school,” said Priscilla Salant, lead researcher on the study and McClure Center director. “We know that a relatively small share of high school graduates enroll in postsecondary education, and now we can begin to explain why that’s the case.”
The center’s next report will examine how affordability, college preparation, and high school characteristics influence Idahoans’ decisions about life after high school.
The James A. & Louise McClure Center for Public Policy Research is based in Boise and housed in the UI College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences. A summary of the survey can be found at: www.uidaho.edu/idahoataglance.