Survey says: Kids don’t always do what they say they’re going to do

About three-fourths of seniors surveyed in the Treasure Valley say they planned to attend a two- or four-year college or university this year, according to results from a survey conducted by the Treasure Valley Education Partnership.

The Senior Exit Survey was given to 5,433 graduating seniors from 32 schools in the Treasure Valley. The data was collected to gauge interest in continuing education beyond high school.

The survey results highlighted a question Idaho’s education community has long struggled to answer:

Why do so many teens say they are going on to post-secondary education but they don’t actually make it?

Only 46 percent of Idaho graduates enrolled in postsecondary education within 12 months of graduating in 2015. Yet 73 percent of 2016 graduating seniors surveyed in the Treasure Valley said they plan to continue their education.

“They don’t end up showing up and I have no idea why,” said Ali Crane, who works with student admissions at Idaho State University. “It’s a summer melt.”

The results of the 50-question survey conducted in the spring were presented Tuesday morning to about 100 members of TVEP, a group of education, community and business leaders united on improving student outcomes. The core leadership team has about 20 members, including representatives from area colleges and universities, school districts, banks, youth groups and city government.

The conference attendees spent about an hour in groups discussing the survey outcomes and takeaways.

University of Idaho research scientist Jean Henscheid reviewed the 15 open-ended questions from the survey and found young males were far more “embarrassed, frustrated or insecure” about explaining why they don’t want to go to college.

“Young males especially wrote they don’t feel prepared to go on,” said Henscheid.

Another “ah-ha” moment revealed by the survey for TVEP leaders was that 77 percent said their family was the biggest influence in their decisions about what to do after high school, as opposed to counselors, college representatives or government agendas.

“We’re finding a huge piece of getting teens to continue their education is family engagement,” Crane said.

TVEP members developed the survey to provide insight into students’ experiences and expectations. Questions about students’ plans after graduation also provide insight into the college enrollment and career readiness supports that are needed.

Here are highlights of the 2016 Spring survey (5,433 graduating seniors from 32 schools in the Treasure Valley):

  • Seventy-three percent said they plan to continue their education beyond high school.
  • Of the 73 percent who said they planned to go to college, 67 percent said they made the decision to pursue a post-secondary education in the eighth grade or earlier.
  • Of the students who were not planning to continue their education, 41 percent said they planned to be working full time, 23 percent said they planned to take a break to pursue other interests, 20 percent said they will go on a religious mission and 18 percent said they’d join the military.