Enrollment: High numbers lose news appeal


Editorial Board

Last week, the South Dakota Board of Regents announced that SDSU’s enrollment grew by 356 students and it had the biggest enrollment jump of the six state universities. Not a big surprise.

Year after year, SDSU’s enrollment has climbed, reaching record enrollments for seven consecutive years. At first, it was exciting to see SDSU grow and to continually set itself apart from the other state universities. In previous years, we waited with bated breath to hear the official numbers, and cheered when they were higher than last year’s.

But now record enrollment seems evident and predictable. It isn’t newsworthy anymore.

And frankly, the enrollment increase really isn’t that much. SDSU’s population is still in the bottom 11,000, and it will probably be awhile before the university reaches the 12,000 mark.

From year to year, the enrollment story remains the same. The bigger schools get bigger and the smaller schools get smaller. But this year, the story changes.

South Dakota Public University Research Center’s enrollment increase of 2.9 percent has directly affected the six state universities. More and more students are going to SDPURC, formerly USDSU, to get their degree. So it’s no wonder that University of South Dakota, Dakota State University and SDSU had enrollment increases because, up until this year, they were the only institutions that offered programs through the center. Northern State University will probably see an enrollment jump now that it offers programs through the center and Black Hills State University and South Dakota Schools of Minds & Technology would see jumps if they also got on the SDPURC bandwagon.

It’s a great thing that more and more people are deciding to attend SDSU, but soon SDSU record enrollment won’t be newsworthy anymore. The real story will be SDSU’s growth through SDPURC, and it’s our duty to make sure that story continues each year.