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Here's where Sioux Falls high school students are going to college

Argus Leader (Sioux Falls) 8/12/2019 Shelly Conlon

For the last seven years, the majority of Sioux Falls graduates have had one thing in common: They're choosing South Dakota for higher education.

Of the top 10 institutions reporting enrollment numbers from the Sioux Falls School District, the top seven schools are all in-state, district data shows. 

The Sioux Falls School Board heard a report about those post-secondary enrollment numbers at Monday night's board meeting, including how 70% of graduates enroll within the first two years after high school. 

The district's also analyzing the enrollment data to make sure students are as prepared as they can be for success after high school, because the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics shows 65% of all jobs will require post-secondary education as of 2022.

a screenshot of a cell phone: A chart from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the occupational employment growth rate based on entry-level education. © Sioux Falls School District A chart from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the occupational employment growth rate based on entry-level education.

"The numbers haven't fluctuated that much in the last couple of years," said Teresa Boysen, assistant superintendent of academic achievement in the district, before the meeting. 

The district saw an 1% increase in the number of students who enrolled at both in-state and out-of-state institutions immediately after high school, but saw a small dip in those who enroll during two years after high school, she said.

The data comes from the National Student Clearinghouse, but it's data based on students who opt-in to give their information, Boysen said. So, the district isn't sure if the small decline in those who enroll two years after graduating is because less information is available or some other reason, she said.

"I don't think it changes what we do at all," Superintendent Brian Maher said. "We don't know direction that (dip) is going to go for sure, and we'll just continue to prepare our kids the best we can when it comes to their literacy levels, their math abilities and really, their total development as a student."

Which schools made the top 5

Of the top 10 schools, the majority of Sioux Falls students enroll at South Dakota State University, with more than 1,300 since 2011. 

That's followed by the University of South Dakota, with 1,278 students, and Southeast Technical Institute, with 625 students.

Augustana University drops in fourth with about 400 students, and the University of Sioux Falls comes in fifth with 275 students.

"This is good for our state," Superintendent Brian Maher said. "You sure don't want that talent drained if you can keep from losing kids. And if we lose them, hopefully, we can bring them back into our state."

Which schools made the bottom 5

The last five include Dakota State University, with about 250 students from Sioux Falls; the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities, the University of Nebraska - Lincoln, the South Dakota School of Mines and the Minnesota State University - Mankato, respectively. 

Each of those schools range from about 220 students to 130, district data shows. 

"This year, Dakota State University and the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities flipped just a couple numbers from last year, and it's the same thing for the School of Mines and Makato, just a couple students different," Boysen said. "This order stays pretty much the same from what I've seen the last four years."

a screenshot of a cell phone: A chart shows the top 10 schools reporting initial enrollment records for Sioux Falls School District graduates from 2011 to 2018. © Sioux Falls School District A chart shows the top 10 schools reporting initial enrollment records for Sioux Falls School District graduates from 2011 to 2018.

Where might the district go next

Not included in the list is the University Center, or what's now known as the Community College for Sioux Falls as of April, following a major rebranding. 

The workforce development college's first year starts this fall, and the campus is geared toward supporting first-generation college students and nontraditional students.

"It'll be interesting to see that," Maher said. "For our kids, it's just another option. South Dakota State, and USD will probably be, at least for the foreseeable future, the two areas of destination that probably won't change. Where does it go after that? We have some great options right here in the community."

The district is partnering with the institute to offer college algebra for the first time at Lincoln High School this year, and officials will be looking at other ways to bring more college-level learning onto district campuses in the future, Boysen said. 

"Our goal in the district is to prepare them for whatever is next," Maher said. "Whether that's sophomore year to junior year, or whether it's, 'I graduate high school and I go onto wherever I go.' That will be our major focus."

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This article originally appeared on Sioux Falls Argus Leader: Here's where Sioux Falls high school students are going to college

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