Report: S.D. an Attractive Choice for College Students

According to a new report by the South Dakota Board of Regents, the state is now considered to be a net importer of college freshmen.

Augustana junior Coral Hanson and President Rob Oliver talked with KSFY-TV about the trend and about why Augustana is an attractive option for so many students from outside the state.

A Minnesota Native Tells KSFY Why She Came to South Dakota for College
By Alex Ronallo, KSFY-TV

A recent study by the South Dakota Board of Regents finds more students are coming to South Dakota colleges from out of state than leave here to go to college in other states.

Using the most recent data from the U.S. Department of Education, the Board of Regents found in 2008, more than 2,100 freshman at South Dakota colleges were from out of state, while only a little more than 1,500 students left to go to school out of state. It all adds up a net gain of about 570 students.

We visited a local college to find out what's attracting these young people.

Augustana College junior Coral Hanson is from the Twin Cities area and, while most of her friends went to college in Minnesota, she decided to come to South Dakota. She says, "I'd been with all of these students for 12 years and I kinda wanted to start fresh."

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Coral says the location attracted her, but also, the scholarships. She says, "one thing that really attracted me to Augie is that it's affordable."

Some South Dakota schools like Augie can offer an affordable alternative to some out-of-staters like Coral.

Augie President Rob Oliver says a lot more students than just Coral are crossing the borders. He says, "well, at Augustana, 6 out of every 10 of our students come from out of state."

According to Oliver, most of them come from Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska and/or North Dakota. He says they come to South Dakota for a good education and get hooked, saying, "the majority of our graduates stay here."

Oliver says attractive prospects after graduation bring students here as well, like the promise of good careers.

Augustana as a Net Importer

Of the 94 percent of May 2010 graduates who reported finding a job within nine months of graduation, 68 percent were working South Dakota, serving as contributors to the state’s intellectual capital.

And, although Coral Hanson came here to get away from home, she likes that if she ever feels homesick, there are options. She says, "it's far enough away from home that you feel separated, but you can always quick, jump back home."

The Board of Regents study also found that less high school students are graduating from South Dakota than in the past. So colleges do need to attract out-of-state students more than ever.

Kelly Sprecher
Director of Communications & Media Relations