Students at USD are hitting the books hard, and that has led to more students staying above the 2.0 GPA level of academic probation.
"We've actually seen a drop over the last four years, and this year in particular we saw a pretty significant drop in our first-year probation numbers, and overall student probation numbers," Steve Ward said.
Last semester, 148 first-year students were placed on academic probation. That's down 53 students from 2010. USD Director of Academic and Career Planning Steve Ward says that a new program at the university called starfish, which allows professors to voice their concerns about their students to academic advisors, is a reason why the numbers have declined. He also points to the expansion of the Muenster University Center to include a path to the library might lead to more students studying.
First-year students usually have the highest number of students on academic probation. Ward says that's because off the difficulties of making the progression of high school to college.
"It's one thing we don't think about as a society, but the transition from high school to college is as radical as anything you can do in your life. I often equate it to parenthood for the first time. You are entering a completely new academic culture," Ward said.
Even with the decrease, Ward says the university is working on fixing a different trend, one many campuses are dealing with nation-wide.
"If you look at a freshman cohort coming to the University of South Dakota, a little over half of those students will graduate at that's in six years, not in four years. That's a national norm. That's a national average too, so this is a national problem," Ward said.
Ward says that once students hit roadblocks in their first choice of a major, that's when they drop out. He knows that is not a wise career choice for students, because of the money already put in.
"The last thing we want of course is for a student to drop out of college and make the investment and not have a bachelor's degree to show for it," Ward said.