More students makes SDSU’s Rapid City program stable

Tanya Marsh

Tanya Marsh

An enrollment increase will make SDSU’s education and counseling outreach program in Rapid City more stable, coordinator Dianna Knox said last week.

The West River Graduate Center is located on the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology campus.

Knox is the only full-time professor at the center, which offers master’s degrees in education and counseling, mostly to non-traditional students.

“We’re seeing a 50 percent increase in enrollment in the last two years,” she said.

“We’re generating two times the revenue, which is great because we’re a self-supporting program. We’re doubled our enrollment, which means we’re able to have a better foundation.”

This is good news for students.

” If you’re a West River graduate student, you can count on that the degree is achievable,” Knox said.

Previously, low enrollment may have prevented students from depending on a class being offered at a certain time, but now students have more consistency in their classes, she said.

Francis Martin, assistant dean of the College of Education and Counseling, said there are about 50 students in the education branch and about 110 students in the counseling branch.

“On the counseling side (enrollment) is about where it should be. It’s a little low on the education side,” he said.

“Over time it goes up and down a little. We just finished a wave of students, so now it’s a little low, but both programs are very solid. The numbers are not very consistent from one class to another.”

The center is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and the Council of Accreditation of Counseling Related Educational Programs.

Both are international accreditation boards, and Martin saod they were the best in the field.

Students have several career paths to choose from.

The education program offers degrees in administration, technology and curriculum development, for example, Martin said.

The counseling program includes community or agency counseling, school counseling, and student affairs.

Motivated students and teachers are factors in the center’s success.

Knox said the part-time professors are “the most talented clinicians in the area. They teach because they love to, and they’re good at it.”

An obvious key ingredient for the program is willing students. Knox said the center’s students fit the bill.

“Our students are non-traditional. The average age is forty. They’re here because they want to be here, they’ve made the decision to come back to school,” she said.

“We have students that drive over here from as far west as Gillete [Wyo.] and as far east as Pierre. That’s a real commitment on the part of the students, and I think that speaks well for the institution.”

The counseling program is also available in Mission.

“We’re very alert to the need to reach out and make certain things accessible that would not otherwise be accessible to those parts of the state,” Martin said.

Both Martin and Knox said they are glad to help SDSU deliver services across the state.

Knox said she likes being part of SDSU’s long-standing tradition of delivering courses where people might not get them otherwise.

“If it weren’t for the fact that SDSU is here, people West River wouldn’t be able to get a master’s in counseling. I’m most proud to be affiliated with a program that would make that possible for people out here in the wild wild west.”