Nursing begins early admittance program


The South Dakota State University nursing program is opening doors for incoming freshman.

Starting this year, high school seniors can apply to the nursing program before they enter campus. Students accepted into the Direct Admit program must have a minimum score of 27 on their ACT.

If accepted to the Direct Admit program, students must have a full-time status each semester and remain eligible to participate in the Fishback Honors College. Michelle (Neuharth) Kettwig, a 2013 graduate of the SDSU nursing program, said there are benefits to being in the Honors College.

“I think it [Direct Admit program] could be a good idea because if they can qualify for Honor’s College then they more than likely have what it takes to study hard and to do what it takes to get good grades,” Kettwig said. “Honors College will also teach critical thinking skills which is definitely needed in the nursing program.”

The Direct Admit program closely resembles the program the College of Pharmacy offers on campus. According to Todd Stricherz, director of the department of nursing services, the Direct Admit program was put into place to remain competitive with other schools when recruiting students.

“We had looked at other programs across the country to see who had any sort of guaranteed admission and there were quite a few schools that have some sort of guarantee,” Stricherz said.

While this program offers a guaranteed acceptance into the nursing program, students must remain eligible. To maintain eligibility, students must get a ‘C’ or higher in all pre-nursing courses, including chemistry and other courses.

Leaders of the nursing program recently chose to remove the interview process from the admissions process. According to Kettwig, it gave her interview experience and she believes it was an important part of the process.

“With this Direct Admit Program, the faculty might not get to know the students in that one-on-one way. I think of how people can be “book smart” and ‘common sense smart,’” Kettwig said. “For the nursing program, you need to be both.”

The interview process was removed because, statistically, it was not an accurate indicator of a student’s success. Research showed that a student’s grade in science courses were a more accurate measure of success.

Current students are not able to apply for the Direct Admit into the nursing program because only next year’s batch of freshmen can apply. Some current nursing students would have qualified for this program.

“I think that if I could have applied in high school, I would have,” said Lenora Heyduck, junior nursing major.

“I guess since I haven’t experienced this Direct Admit Program, I am kind of torn on my thoughts,” Kettwig said. “I think it could be a great thing but I also think it could take away the competition.”

SDSU’s nursing program is celebrating its 80th anniversary. In those 80 years, the program has gained recognition in the workplace. According to Kettwig, the competitiveness was a factor in her education choice.

“I knew it was competitive but I know if I could get in and do well I could go anywhere because of how many people respect the nursing program,” Kettwig said.

The Direct Admit program also holds the benefit of relieving stress from some students by guaranteeing their acceptance into the nursing program.

“This will allow them [students] to be involved in campus activities and be a leader on campus and participate in research,” Stricherz said. “It will help them be a more well-rounded student.”