RAPID CITY, S.D. – As South Dakota’s public universities see a decline in enrollment, technical schools are seeing the opposite trend. What may be perceived as a competition between the higher levels of education, fighting for student enrollment may not be as it seems.
Western Dakota Tech has achieved record growth, faster than any other school in the state. President Dr. Ann Bolman of WDT says they’re not just seeing a single discipline grow, instead it’s all across the board.
“Students are very interested in the fact that they know that when they finish our programs, they’re going to get a really good paying job,” said Bolman.
A good paying job in less than half the time of a four year school and at a fraction of a cost.
After one to two years, students graduate with a skill that will earn them on average, $40,000 a year, six months out of school. Bolman says they work closely with local employers to see 98 percent of their students get jobs.
“We have to keep updating as the employers in our area tell us that they’re lacking and what help they need,” said Bolman.
So instead of pursuing a degree, graduating, and hoping there’s a position available, WDT maintains education plans that directly fill the community’s needs.
“Our universities in South Dakota have begun realizing they need to support our employers in that way too so when our graduates need to go on an advance their degrees, they’re not making them start over,” said Bolman.
Beginning with an agreements between WDT and South Dakota State University to a,ow tech studnets to continue their education.
“We’ve got a lot of nice articulation agreements with SDSU we just signed about a week ago,” said Bolman.
So what will the enrollment statistics show in a few years after technical schools and universities have worked together? Only time will tell.