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Life Choices of High School Seniors

New research offers insight into why Idaho students do, and don’t, choose to go to college

A new McClure Center study suggests that being of service to church and country, helping their families, and needing to earn an immediate income are chief reasons why many Idaho students decide that college, at least immediately after high school, is not for them.

Life Choices of High School Seniors is Phase Two of the McClure Center’s Life after High School study. The first report answered general questions about the decision making process of seniors using survey data collected from a representative sample of 385 Idaho students four months after they graduated. Phase One revealed that more females than males are enrolling in postsecondary education; more males are motivated to go to college by the promise of eventually making money, and many students are dubious of the value of postsecondary education.

The new, deeper analysis of data from the survey found that:

  • Recent high school graduates who placed a high priority on either serving their country or being active in their church were much less likely to enroll in further education than students with other priorities. 
  • Male respondents who prioritized having a job they love were less likely to go on than females with that same priority. Females who say being near family was their most important consideration tended not to go on at the same rate as males with that same priority. 
  • Financial readiness was a bigger concern for Hispanic students than for non-Hispanics and Hispanics were more skeptical that postsecondary education would help them get a better paying job.

Major funding for both phases of the study was provided by University of Idaho President Chuck Staben and the Idaho State Board of Education. The report was co-authored by Jean Henscheid of the McClure Center and the state board’s Principle Research Analyst Cathleen McHugh.


Life Choices of High School Seniors (2017)


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Life After High School

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McClure Center

Physical Address:
GAR Building

Mailing Address:
James A. & Louise McClure Center for Public Policy Research
GAR Building
714 W. State Street
Boise, ID 83702

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