South Dakota public universities experience an increase in enrollment

With a strategic plan numbers in South Dakota have increased significantly over the last couple of years.
Published: Sep. 13, 2023 at 7:34 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - Student enrollment has been an issue for some universities. But with a strategic plan, numbers in South Dakota have increased over the last couple of years.

According to the South Dakota Board of Regents, public universities in the state saw a 2 percent increase in student enrollment this fall, marking the second consecutive year of growth. The president of the Black Hills State University noted that they partnered with a national firm to develop a strategic enrollment plan before the COVID-19 pandemic, which has resulted in a 1.5 percent enrollment increase compared to last year.

“And that delayed results with the plan like that is not unusual it usually takes a year or two really working on making some significant changes on campus before you really start to see the numbers tracking along and improving,” said Black Hills State University President Dr. Laurie Nichols.

In fall 2023, South Dakota’s public universities enrolled 5,341 first-time freshmen, marking a 2.6 percent increase over 2022 and a 6 percent increase over 2021.

“Our online enrollment is the strongest, and our actual numbers online are about just a little shy of 2300. The actual numbers are 2228 students that take a class online with us, Our on-campus numbers are just a little shy. I believe 1,600 is 1,500 Some students so we really actually have more students that are that we are taking an online course that may be just strictly face to face,” said Nichols.

We spoke with one student who is returning to the Black Hills to be closer to home

“I transferred from Maine, and it was really far from home, and I’ve grown up in the Black Hills, so I just missed home. It’s just a good community to be in,” said Black Hills State University transfer student Mya Guptill.

While Black Hills State enrollment increased, South Dakota Mines stayed stagnant. Their numbers are down one from 2022 with 496 students enrolled in the freshman class.