OREM — Educators need to steer students toward higher education, Utah Valley State College president William A. Sederburg told a group of about 400 charter school educators this morning.

While higher education is expecting an influx of students soon, numbers of high school students headed to college has dropped in the state, Sederburg said.

More than a decade ago 41 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds were enrolled in college. That figure has declined to 33 percent, he said, citing "Measuring Up," the national report card on education.

Sederburg was the keynote speaker for a two-day charter school conference at UVSC that ends today.

The event is sponsored jointly by the Utah Association of Public Charter Schools and CharterSTAR, a grant through John Hancock Charter School in Pleasant Grove. It drew charter school educators from all over the state.

A good example of a charter school steering students toward higher education is the Utah County Academy of Sciences, an early college high school charter school on UVSC campus, Sederburg said.

UCAS has about 340 students and is integrated into the curriculum at UVSC. About 80 percent of the students have a two-year degree by the time they graduate from high school. About 90 percent continue with a four-year degree, most of whom go to UVSC.

"We look upon this as a very successful experiment," Sederburg said. "We're delighted to have these young people on campus."

While percentages of high school graduates headed for college are dipping statewide, Sederburg says he still has hope. One has only to go to a child-oriented event in Utah County to see the student growth potentially headed for higher ed.

Sederburg said he recently visited Orem's Summerfest parade.

"It was just a sea of young people, smiling little faces. And I was thinking of all the tuition dollars," Sederburg said. "We have a bright future here."

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