HONOLULU (KHON2) — Fewer high school graduates are going to college. That was among the concerns raised during the University of Hawaii Board of Regents meeting.

The board held its evaluation of UH President David Lassner. Among the accomplishments noted was how well the university handled the pandemic. The university also rebuilt its financial reserves and the hiring of new UH football coach Timmy Chang.

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However, the university did see challenges when attracting local high school graduates.

“Who increasingly do not pursue post-secondary education, challenge not only for the university but for the state if we don’t have our high school students going on to higher education,” said Randolph Moore, UH Board of Regents chairman.

The board said overall enrollment is up at UH Manoa, but down at other UH campuses. The university is looking for ways to attract and retain students.

Students and parents said cost is a big factor. Some have said the pandemic has also made them consider other options.

Going to college has become a rite of passage for many but for some, the cost has become too much of a burden. So some high school graduates are putting it off for now.

“Not too much family here on the islands right now. So it’s just me and my dad taking care of my mother right now,” said Thomas Barros, a recent high school graduate. “So I just have to wait until one of my cousins finishes college and then come back down here, take care of her and then I can do my own thing.”

“It’s mostly the money, it’s a lot of money to get into college and if you don’t pass one you got to make up for that money. It’s a lot, I don’t really wanna do that,” said Angel Ramirez, a high school student.

Many said the cost is the biggest factor. And if they don’t get a scholarship, college is on hold until other opportunities come up.

“That’s one of the factors that’s making it sad. As soon as they turn 18, they’re dropping out of school, leaving the sports that they like, leaving their studies to go help families to be able to move on,” said Martha Navia, a parent.

Others want to make sure they know what they plan to do with their life before making the commitment.

“Some are thinking about just other opportunities like real estate or other things that don’t require as much of a college degree,” said Mehdi Badawi, a high school student. “Most want to go to college but don’t know what they would do.”

Some parents said the pandemic has also made students consider other options, being able to work their own hours and be their own boss.

“They can see that they can make money out of a lot of small jobs, being a freelance writer or yoga instructor or working online,” said parent Ghizlane Badawi.

Some have said they would rather wait it out until the opportunities are there.

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“I’m working with my uncle, construction, masonry,” said Jonah Balocan, a recent high school graduate.