User uShare Login | Register

Along with posting photos, videos, and stories, your uShare account lets you post Classified Ads, recipes on What's For Dinner, and Announcements.

32° View Weather Current Conditions Sioux Falls Change Location
Set Weather Options



Accumulating snow possible Monday night - Tuesday. Storm Center Update. | Sioux Falls News & Weather, South Dakota News & Weather, Minnesota and Iowa News

[0] My Saved Articles
Find local businesses
on the KELO Pages!


Recruiting And Retaining Students At SMSU

September 27, 2012, 10:07 PM by Shawn Neisteadt

Recruiting And Retaining Students At SMSU

Between classes and activities, students at Southwest Minnesota State University can enjoy their student center.  It opened just seven years ago and it's one of the things freshmen Emily Olson likes about the campus.

"I looked all of the country, at all different sizes and things like that. So I had a wide variety of seeing a lot of schools," Olson said.

Olson is an exercise science major and received scholarships for academics and athletics.  That's what helped get her to the school she fell in love with while on a tour.

"I like the characteristics of an older school, but it is nice and new and modern and they have everything that we would need here.  It's all we could imagine," Olson said.

"What we've in the history of this institution, is if we can get someone to come look at Southwest Minnesota State University, they're going to like what they see," Interim president Ron Wood said.

Wood is in his second and final year as interim president at SMSU.  He says that Olson's recruitment is fairly typical.  But, getting students here hasn't been easy.  In fact, last year's class of incoming students was one of the smallest in recent history. 

"We're going to face that for the next three years.  It's important to be steady.  Our goal is to, we've got a little over 500 this time.  We'd like to get us at 550," Wood said.

Numbers rebounded by about 100 students this year.  Wood credits that to many changes SMSU made in recruiting.  First, the school changed the area where it looks for potential students.

"The circle had been very wide.  We were over in Wisconsin and very western South Dakota and down into Nebraska.  I said let's look at our 19 county and our immediate region like going up and down the spine of Interstate 29, making sure we're recruiting in an area in which we have some recognition.  That seemed to help a good bit," Wood said.

Secondly, the school focused on high school students who are most likely to continue their education, like those who take advanced classes and score well on their ACT.  Those students were offered more incentives.

"We decided to front load our scholarships so that when our recruiters went out, they had something to offer them," Wood said.

The school also uses its facilities as a recruiting tool.  Outside of the student center is a new football stadium.  SMSU also just added cross country and will add track and field next year.

On the academics side, a new program in which registered nurses can get their Bachelor of Science in nursing is about to start.  SMSU is also looking at adding an agriculture program for the first time.  That all adds up to more students on campus.

"We look at the institutions around us that would be primary, the University of Minnesota and SDSU, they're much more research oriented.  We want to be more applied and put someone back to work without them having to go on and get a masters or Ph.Ds in ag," Wood said.

Getting students here is one thing, keeping them here is another.  Right now, about 70 percent of freshmen at SMSU will go on to get their degree here.  Wood would like to see that number climb to 80 percent.

SMSU is piloting several programs to help mentor students along the way and retain them in the process.  This all comes at a time in which the university has had a budget decrease of $5 million in just four years.

"People think that we're raising tuition just to raise tuition.  We're raising tuition just to fill maybe 30 percent of what our cuts have been.  Then the other 70 percent, we've got to figure out efficiencies," Wood said.

Yet, Wood says SMSU has been able to promise no cuts this year and should be sitting well financially next year as well. That all points to a strong turn around.

"With more new students coming here, word is going to get out and more people are finding out about this school, so a lot of people will be coming here, so that's good," Olson said.

That's both good for the student experience, and the university's bottom line.

Right now, SMSU operates on about 38 percent state money.  Wood, who was previously retired, will retire again at the end of this year.

Previous Story

Next Story


Find Local Businesses on KELO Pages!

View featured stories

You may also like

Rick's Recovery

2/27/2015 10:03 PM

A terrible motorcycle crash last summer not only seriously injured a biker, but it's going to cost him almost everything he's worked for all h...

Full Story | Watch
Native Americans Seek Reconciliation Despite Controversial Criminal Charge

2/22/2015 10:17 PM

When a criminal charge finally came last week on an incident at a Rapid City hockey came, the reaction of many Native Americans ranged from disappoint...

Full Story | Watch
The Dark Side Of Boomtown

2/24/2015 10:00 PM

The Bakken Oilfields in North Dakota have become a black goldmine. Thousands are flocking to the area to cash in. Yet, a boom of people has also ...

Full Story | Watch
Sex Trafficking Stopover

2/23/2015 10:10 PM

"It has arrived here in South Dakota and it's serious," Attorney General Marty Jackely said.

Full Story | Watch
From College To Cuba

2/26/2015 10:00 PM

These South Dakota snowbirds flocked to a major flashpoint of the Cold War, that's only now, emerging from a half-century of isolation from the U....

Full Story | Watch