Thursday, January 7, 2016


In December 2014 we posted an article detailing the college majors of Boise District students from the high school graduating classes of 2007-10.  In this post, we've updated the data, dropping off the class of 2007, adding the class of 2011, and considering additional degrees and certificates earned by students in the classes of 2008, 2009, and 2010.

Of the District students who earned degrees and certificates, 89% attained Bachelor's degrees, 8% received Associate degrees, and 4% earned certificates, as reported by the National Student Clearinghouse. We believe that certificates are under-reported, since a number of the for-profit colleges in the Treasure Valley and beyond are not included in the Clearinghouse reports.  Notably, the majority of the reported certificates in our database were from Carrington College in Boise.

Majors By Field

The largest percentage of Boise Schools' college graduates' majors continues to be in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM), with 26.7% of students majoring in one of these fields. The percentage of students majoring in STEM is up .5% since we last did the analysis.

The Major Area with the largest growth is Health and Wellness, which was at 12.2% of majors for the classes of 2007-10 and now stands at 15.5%. Social Science majors are down about 3%, falling 
from 25.6% of the total to 22.4%. Other major areas are relatively static.

Individual Majors

Next we looked at the top 30 majors of Boise District college graduates. There were some interesting changes in the data.

Among the ten most popular majors, Health Science (+16)  and Nursing (+13) showed considerable growth, as did Psychology (+28),  Mechanical Engineering (+15), and Biology (+34). In light of the fact that the Idaho Department of Labor predicts that Health care and Social Assistance jobs will see the highest net growth in Idaho through the year 2022, the increases in majors in Health Science, Nursing, and Biology make some sense.

It's interesting that many sources indicate that, at least for fields like medicine, the student's undergraduate major makes less difference than does the grades a student achieves in his/her undergrad program. Here is an article about medical school admission that makes this point, and another in which a different approach to recruiting medical school students is described.

Graduate Degrees

We had not realized that the National Student Clearinghouse would provide for us bonus material - the higher level degrees earned by students who have already graduated from college. Though this data comes from the high school graduating classes of 2008-11, most of the graduate degrees have been earned by students in the class of 2008.

The graduate degrees earned by these students include:

  • Juris Doctor (law) degrees: 9
  • Master's Degrees: 73
    • Accounting - 9
    • Engineering - 11
    • Architecture - 3
    • Education - 6
    • Social Work - 2
    • Business - 4

Still Enrolled After All These Years

According to the National Students Clearinghouse, among the members of the Class of 2008 who attended college, 229 (12.2% of the graduating class) are still enrolled in college, at the beginning of the 2015-16 school year, their eighth year after high school graduation.

One hundred seventy-nine were "retained" after year seven, meaning they continued their enrollment, while 47 returned after a "stop out", and 9 were new to college. 

In the research we did about the returning students, we found these characteristics:
  • 60% had attended more than one college.
  • 20% had attended three or more colleges.
  • Most had taken time off during college at some point.
  • Most had several semesters when they were not full-time students.
Forty percent of the returning college students are enrolled at Boise State University. For those BSU students, half had attended multiple colleges, and most had been part-time for multiple semesters.

In the next Data Points post, an analysis of the majors at the two institutions from which most Boise District students graduate - Boise State University and the University of Idaho.