SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The newest enrollment numbers at South Dakota’s six public universities are down three percent. The Board of Regents announced the numbers on Friday.
The total headcount at the six universities was 34,520, down 1,217 from the year before. Dakota State University also saw a decrease, but was the only university to report growth with full-time students.
Paul Beran, executive director and CEO of the board of regents, pointed to South Dakota’s low unemployment rate and strong job market as reasons for the decline in numbers.
He called on the Governor and state legislators to help make higher education in South Dakota more affordable. KELOLAND News wanted to ask high school students if they had any other reasons for not wanting to stay in South Dakota for college.
Rahul Giri just started his senior year at Lincoln High School, but he’s already thinking about his next chapter: college. He wants to study biology or economics.
“I like that they’re kind of concrete. In those kinds of fields you always have an answer to the question,” Rahul Giri said.
Investment banker or doctor top his list of careers. He’s applying to Yale, Brown, Rice University, just to name a few.
“I kind of want to go to a bigger city just for more diversity and opportunities,” Rahul said.
Those are two of his main reasons for why he doesn’t think going to a South Dakota university or college is right for him.
“I can get a new experience. I’ve stayed here for a long time, so, I can get a new outlook and learn more things,” Rahul said.
He’s not alone.
“Maybe one of the reasons they don’t want to stay in state is because it’s an adventure. Maybe they want some independence away from their families,” David Myers, school counselor, said.
With public university enrollment down slightly, we asked Myers if he’s noticing fewer students interested in staying here. He says, no. However, he says the big reason why students are walking away from opportunities here is reciprocity.
He also says If South Dakota offered a needs-based scholarship, that would entice more students to stay.
“Money counts. Students don’t want to have a lot of debt in their back pocket when they get their degree,” Myers said.
Myers says growing interest in two-year programs or technical schools may be another reason for lower enrollment at tradition four-year universities.
Once Rahul gets his degree, he says he may not close the book on South Dakota. He would consider moving back for the right career. Right now, though, he’s ready to focus on senior year.
“It’s my last year. I’m almost done. It’s exciting,” Rahul said.