South Dakota Colleges and Universities

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Great faces, great places: South Dakota's higher career education

In his 1998 bestseller The Greatest Generation, award-winning broadcast journalist and author Tom Brokaw touches on his childhood in his native South Dakota. He observes the region's plains, pheasants and people, creating a picture of a strong community with humble roots and an imperfect past. What is conveyed is the pride that people in South Dakota take in their families, their education and their country.

Colleges and Universitiesin South Dakota

Tom Brokaw has firsthand knowledge of the significance of a South Dakota education. While he first attended the University of Iowa after completing high school, he ultimately graduated from the University of South Dakota. His awards, accomplishments and honorary degrees have been widespread, but Tom Brokaw found his political science education, his first job as a reporter, and even his wife in his home state of South Dakota.

He's not alone. In a state with a total population that doesn't even reach one million, there were more than 36,000 students enrolled in colleges and universities in South Dakota in 2010. While two-year colleges are numerous throughout the state, South Dakota's select four-year institutions include:

  • The University of South Dakota
  • Black Hills State University
  • South Dakota State University
  • Northern State University
  • Dakota State University
  • South Dakota School of Mines and Technology

Trade schools and career colleges in South Dakota can also hold solid career opportunities for vocationally focused students who know exactly what they want their careers to take them. From Mount Rushmore to Sioux Falls and the Crazy Horse memorial, the state has much to offer outside the traditional university classroom as well.

Investing in your education

Although saving for college can be daunting, the rewards are great. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the 2009 unemployment rates for those with associate or bachelor's degrees were significantly lower than those with just a high school diploma. Similarly, those with college degrees also averaged higher annual earnings as well.

Differetiation in employment and earnings among graduates in 2009

Graduates with a high school diploma:

  • 9.7 percent unemployment
  • Median annual earnings: $32,552

Graduates with an associate degree:

  • 6.8 percent unemployment
  • Median annual earnings: $39,572

Graduates with a bachelor's degree:

  • 5.2 percent unemployment
  • Median annual earnings: $53,300

After school, South Dakota graduates are even more financially capable when compared to the rest of the nation. 2008 student loan default research shows consistently lower default rates from South Dakota graduates (4.30 percent) than from the rest of the U.S. (7.07 percent).

Differentiation between state educational costs

Each year the South Dakota Board of Regents publishes a regional survey of student costs associated with public institutions. Based on student costs from universities in Idaho, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming, a South Dakota resident student pays on average $1,075 less per year than the students who reside in the other surveyed states.

South Dakota is much more affordable for newcomers and foreign students as well. The state's survey results show that the cost of non-resident tuition and fees ($8,236 in the 2009-2010 academic year) is more than $4,000 less than the next-lowest state in the survey (Wyoming, at $12,362). Overall, the average cost of the surveyed states is $15,588--more than $7,000 over the cost of what a non-resident student pays in South Dakota.

Ultimately, whether you're a newcomer seeking affordable tuition or a proud native like Tom Brokaw, South Dakota's career training, colleges and universities may suit you.

Author: Mackenzie Quinn is a marketing professional with eight years of technical and educational writing experience. She has a bachelor's degree from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, and has continued her education in both classroom and online post-graduate courses.

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