Student numbers set record

Jen Jungwirth

Jen Jungwirth

SDSU continues its yearly enrollment climb with record numbers for the seventh consecutive year.

The state’s largest university welcomed 356 more students compared to last year, with total enrollment reaching 11,377.

Along with individual enrollment’s, the South Dakota Board of Regents announced Sept. 27 that the states’ public university system increased by 181 more students, or 0.59 percent, setting the total enrollment figure at 30,901. The number of full-time students also increased by 55 students, or 0.23 percent.

SDSU’s enrollment jump also is part of the increased use of South Dakota Public Universities Research Center (SDPURC). SDPURC, formerly USDSU, had a 2.9 percent increase of facility use.

“A significant part of growth has come from off-campus,” said Robert T. “Tad” Perry, BOR executive director. “The campuses are stable and there’s been growth in the non-resident population. Also, more adults [25 to 65 years old] are taking advantage of improved access to university programs.”

Although the number of high school graduates is decreasing, SDSU’s incoming freshmen number still increased.

“This increase is recognition that South Dakotans understand the importance and value of having postsecondary educational attainment,” Perry said. “This is the fuel of South Dakota’s 21st century economic engine.”

Several other factors have also played an important role in attracting students to SDSU.

“State offers a wide variety of majors,” said dean of Student Affairs Marysz Rames. “If students are not sure what they want to do, the university provides them with many different educational opportunities.”

With more than 200 student organizations, students attending SDSU have an opportunity to interact outside of the classroom, Rames said.

“It allows students to continue some of the activities they were a part of in high school, such as student government,” she said.

SDSU has also revamped many of its facilities, such as The Union and Caldwell Hall, which, according to Halbach, “is a sure sign the university is also flourishing.”

Scholarships, especially the Jackrabbit Guarantee, have also enticed students.

“The Jackrabbit Guarantee has been a huge success in recruiting students,” said Halbach. “It’s an automatic $4,000 for those that qualify.”

More than 45 percent of the incoming freshman scored above a 24 on the ACT this fall, qualifying them for the scholarship.

According to Perry, the South Dakota Opportunity Scholarship is working as well, as it benefits prospective students.

The program awards $5,000 during four years to students who have completed the necessary high-school curriculum, became Regents Scholars, graduated from high school with a 3.0 GPA or higher and have scored a 24 on the ACT.

Forty-three percent of students receiving the South Dakota Opportunity Scholarship for the fall semester were enrolled at SDSU.

Also, in the future, the new out-of-state tuition rates will attract a wider diversity of students.

Next fall, out-of-state residents will pay slightly less than half the current tuition rate. Incoming freshman will pay $114.60 per credit hour, or an average of $3,666 each semester. This rate is $4,097 less than this year.

The Board of Regents said SDSU offers the out-of-state students the opportunity to participate in Division-I athletics and enjoy more opportunities other schools cannot offer.

“It is a marketing art of the institution,” said Perry.

Perry also mentioned SDSU works towards the retention of its students, in hopes to keep them from transferring throughout their academic career.

Other South Dakota universities that had enrollment increases include University of South Dakota, 105; Dakota State University, 110 and Black Hills State University, 8. Northern State University decreased by 209 and South Dakota School of Mines and Technology by 189.

However, even with a majority of increases, Perry said, “There is more that can be done … we’ve got a lot of work to do in order to meet our 2010 initiative goals.”

Halbach said the enrollment figures reflect greatly on the structure of SDSU, both inside and out.

“I commend the whole university system,” he said. “We have a strong system with staff and students excited to be at SDSU.”