The estimated number of freshmen attending the University of South Dakota this fall is up from last year, a trend one official attributes to academic and financial factors, among others.
�The freshman class is growing at, in my opinion, a steady pace. Nothing that would wow anybody, but the numbers are up,� said USD�s dean of enrollment Scott Pohlson.
Although Pohlson can not reveal the exact number of freshmen at this time due to Board of Regents regulations, he did say that the number is higher than the 1,034 full-time, first-time freshmen who came to the university last year.
�That was up from the previous year, which was around 961,� he added.
A number of academic considerations come into play in this trend, Pohlson said, including the recently-opened Academic & Career Planning Center.
Specific degrees such as the Bachelor of Science in health careers has been a draw, as well.
�That field has been very popular,� Pohlson said. �But I think that�s because the health science field is a growing field. Here at USD it�s between 95 and 100 percent for placement rates in those areas. So if you graduate, you get a job. Parents and students like that.�
An increased emphasis also has been placed on electronic communications, Pohlson said.
�We�ve done a lot more with redeveloping our Web site,� he said. �We created a mobile application for our admissions office to help students with what they have left with their application, or to find their admissions counselor. We�ve also looked at how we communicate with students in terms of e-communication and print publications.
�There�s definitely been more of an investment on that side by the institution, to make sure that we are ready for the next four to five years,� he said.
Not only is enrollment up, but transfers from other schools are �through the roof,� Pohlson said.
�We�ve seen a lot of interest in Minnesota. I think a lot of that has to do with our tuition rates,� he said. �We�ve done a lot more promotional information, talking about the value side of USD and how you don�t have to pay a huge amount of money to come here.�
The size of the university comes into play for many students, he said.
�I do think that being a flagship university and being the size that USD is, when you look at a flagship university in our surrounding states, they�re huge institutions. And so, I think students aren�t really looking for that,� Pohlson said.
The switch to Division I put USD on the map for many out-of-state students, he added.
�As the joke goes in Minnesota, when you beat them you kind of get a lot more recognition as to who you are as an institution,� he said.
Pohlson said recruitment and awareness continues to be a major concern of everyone at the university � but not at the expense of the programs and activities for which USD is known.
�It�s supposed to be the focus of every department on campus,� he said. �We don�t want to change our academic programming to fit what could be trendy or not trendy.�