Survey: Majority of Utah high school graduates intend to pursue college, job training

Published: Friday, Oct. 11 2013 3:45 p.m. MDT

"I invite our K-12 teachers to help all of their students realize that college should be part of their future," Buhler said. "And I encourage our college faculty to do even more to help every student reach their goal of graduation."

The survey by the Utah Foundation also showed a divide between the voices encouraging students to attend higher education. When asked whether certain people believe they should go to college, students indicated their counselors and teachers at a rate of 71 percent and 70 percent, respectively, but indicated their mothers and fathers at a rate of 60 percent and 54 percent, respectively.

Teigen said part of that divide is likely attributable to the unique religious demographics of the state. He said many Utah parents likely emphasize religious service as the next step after high school as opposed to continued education.

"I suspect that a big part of that difference is due to our Utah culture and that we’ve got a lot of people of the LDS faith," he said.

Teigen also said there is a correlation between the educational attainment of a parent and the education plans of a student, with children from households without a tradition of higher education enrollment less likely to view colleges and universities as a necessary next step after high school.

Eve O'Neill, head counselor at West Jordan High School, said parents are not necessarily less encouraging about attending college, but in cases where the child is a potential first-generation college student, much of the information about applying and paying for higher education comes from teachers.

"They don’t necessarily get the information about college at home," she said. "They do want to go. They just think sometimes that they can’t go."

O'Neill said she was surprised that 91 percent of recent graduates indicated an intent to earn a bachelor's degree. But she added that often a student will begin studying at a college or university before realizing that their intended career path doesn't require a four-year degree.

"I think that as their goals crystallize a little bit more, as they get older and learn more information, then they vary from the four-year plan," O'Neill said.

Email: benwood@deseretnews.com

Twitter: bjaminwood

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