The state Board of Regents is scheduled to discuss Dec. 16 a report whose bottom line is stunning. The report looks at where South Dakota high school graduates from the class of 2007-08 chose to continue their educations that fall.
That our largest public campus, South Dakota State University at Brookings, topped the list with 1,273 wasn’t surprising.
Nor was it too surprising to see the University of South Dakota at Vermillion at No. 2 with 718.
The eyebrows went up a bit over the third slot. There was Black Hills State University at Spearfish with 395.
The shockers came in the fourth through seventh spots.
- Lake Area Technical Institute at Watertown, 387;
- Southeast Technical Institute at Sioux Falls, 320;
- Western Dakota Technical Institute at Rapid City, 288;
- and Mitchell Technical Institute at 252.
Lake Area Tech stood out as the largest of the public tech schools and for being nearly as popular as Black Hills State.
But the stunner comes when the tech enrollments are tallied.
Lake Area and Southeast combined drew more first-time freshmen than did USD. The four techs together attracted nearly as many as did SDSU.
And every one of the techs surpassed the smaller campuses in the regents’ system: Northern State University at Aberdeen, 234, Dakota State University at Madison, 184, and South Dakota School of Mines and Technology at Rapid City, 178.
The net-migration report that’s been assembled for the regents’ discussion doesn’t break out whether any, or how many, of those class of 2007-08 graduates enrolled at the regents’ university centers at Sioux Falls, Pierre or Rapid City
Students who went to one of the centers would have been counted as having as having enrolled at one of the traditional state universities, depending upon which university was providing a specific student’s courses at the center.
That the four public technical institutes have become so popular and therefore so important to South Dakota’s economy is a take-away that perhaps wasn’t intended by the regents.
The regents govern the state universities, but the technical institutes are operated by their local school districts and are under the general supervision of the state Board of Education.
What can be satisfying to both state boards, however, is that the 10 public institutions were so popular with the 2007-08 graduates.
They ranked ahead of every private institution in South Dakota, and ahead of every public or private institution outside South Dakota.
In preparing the report, the regents’ central staff sought to make a bigger point. South Dakota was a net importer of college freshmen in fall 2008.
Of 9,142 students who graduated in the class of 2007-08, there were 1,564 who left South Dakota for a college or university outside our state’s borders.