Forty-six percent of Utah’s high school graduating class of 2018 enrolled in college the following year

Further studies to examine demographics and socioeconomics of students graduating from Utah K-12 districts 

The Utah System of Higher Education released findings today detailing the transition of high school graduates to postsecondary education as part of a five-year-long effort to inform education leaders about the trends of high school graduates enrolling in college.

Of Utah’s high school graduating class of 2018, 46% enrolled in a college or university in Utah one year after high school graduation. National first-year enrollment rates continue to exceed Utah’s, averaging 66.7% in 2017. Ecclesiastical missions, stemming from Utah’s predominant religion, may explain why many Utah graduates do not attend college immediately after high school graduation, but to what degree is unknown.

Though enrollment rates for students directly out of high school lag, statewide educational attainment rates outpace national averages.

“Understanding the trends of Utah high school graduates transitioning to college is a major step in addressing issues of access to higher education in our state,” said Dave R. Woolstenhulme, Commissioner of Higher Education. “The Utah Board of Higher Education is committed to reducing barriers so that more students may access and benefit from higher education. I am optimistic that future analysis of these trends may help inform future administration and policymaking locally and statewide.”  

Additionally, findings show that a student is more likely to attend the college or university closest to home. School districts in the University of Utah and Salt Lake Community College service region saw the highest number of high school graduates in 2018 and the highest first-year enrollment rate in 2019 at 49.5%. 

The full state High School Feedback report utilizes high school graduate data from the Utah State Board of Education and college enrollment information from both the National Student Clearinghouse and USHE institutions. It is given as feedback to state leadership, district superintendents and individual high schools.

The data from this report was collected and synthesized prior to the merger of both higher education systems in the State of Utah. This report references what was the Utah System of Higher Education, prior to July 1, 2020. The Utah System of Higher Education now consists of 16 institutions, including eight technical colleges, two community colleges, four regional universities, and two research universities.