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Enrollment down at Idaho universities; students learn options at Southeast Idaho College Fair

Many students leaving Idaho for college

Wednesday marked the annual South Eastern Idaho College Fair. It's the largest in the region, attracting over 50 schools and up to 2,000 students in the past, according to Idaho Falls High School Counselor Danette Gneiting.

The college fair alternates between each of the four major Bonneville County high schools, this year it landed at Idaho Falls.

According to the State Board of Education, only about a third of Idaho seniors attend an in-state public school. Enrollment is down at Idaho's largest universities with Boise State seeing a 3 percent drop. At University of Idaho, enrollment is down 5.2 percent.

Local News 8 talked to a couple of seniors headed to the college fair. They both planned to leave the state next fall.

"I love the atmosphere, I love the big city and the people and the nice weather and things to do," said Kai Amos. She wants to attend a school in San Francisco or Los Angeles. "I feel like I need to branch out. I don't mind going close. Utah schools, I don't even mind," she added.

Classmate Braeden Henze agrees. He is applying to BYU, University of Utah, and Wesmintster College in Salt Lake.

Braeden could be one of many Idahoans who leave the state for school, and part of the over 50 percent of Idaho seniors who don't go straight to college.

"I actually really want to go on a mission before," he said.

"Our [IFHS] most recent report shows about 66 percent of our graduating seniors go on to college. The reason many of them don't, and I think you'll see that number drop drastically, is because of the LDS church and students going on missions," said Gneiting.

Gneiting believes another factor is money.

"Sometimes it's financial, they need to work for a while and they just aren't quite sure how they will pay for it," she said.

That is the same reason why she encourages all of her students to apply to at least one in-state school.

"Often times students want to go as far away from home as they can, and it often comes down to financial reasons. It's quite expensive to go out of state," said Gneiting.

Even though many students want to leave, they don't always go far.

"University of Utah is a really good location for a lot of Idaho students because it's far enough away that they can kind of be on their own and experience something new but it's close enough they aren't too far away from home," said Eric Boscan, an admissions counselor for the University of Utah.

If students missed Wednesday's college fair, there are still opportunities to talk to some admissions counselors. Many area schools visit high schools individually, and there are other regional fairs if students want to travel.

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