With the number of college-aged students predicted to dwindle and as other states roll out more college affordability programs, some South Dakota colleges plan to bolster enrollment with creative recruitment tactics and another tuition freeze.
South Dakota continues to suffer from the so-called "brain drain," in which high school and college graduates leave the state and take their skills and talents with them. But a new scholarship program and other efforts are giving hope that more educated, talented young people will stay in the state where they grew up.
Many aspects of living and learning on South Dakota college campuses appear more normal this fall, but as COVID-19 cases rise statewide due to the highly transmissible delta variant, aggressive efforts are still being made to keep students, faculty and staff safe and some students are feeling the strain of anxiety caused by the pandemic.
Oglala Lakota College in southwestern South Dakota was able to keep its students and staff safe while also benefitting from federal aid that allowed for a vast expansion of computer and internet access for its students.
The gap in educational achievement and access to higher education has grown worse during the COVID-19 pandemic as fewer low-income and minority students will be able to afford or be ready to attend college.
The COVID-19 pandemic created a major interruption for colleges and universities across South Dakota and the nation, causing changes in how instruction was delivered, how students learned and resulting in enrollment and revenue declines for schools both public and private, large and small. Yet the pandemic only exacerbated long-range challenges already faced by the American higher education system. In a four-part special report, South Dakota News Watch takes an in-depth look at where higher education stands now and what the future might look like.
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