Strong enrollment trends noted at Black Hills State University

Author: BHSU Communications/Tuesday, September 22, 2015/Categories: 2015








           Black Hills State University students move in to Crow Peak Hall, the new residence hall on campus. More students are living on campus and freshmen enrollment increased by eight percent this fall.  



Enrollment at Black Hills State University this fall is higher than anticipated new student enrollment increased by eight percent.  

           "BHSU has some impressive enrollment numbers this fall," Dr. Tom Jackson, Jr., BHSU president, said. "Most remarkable is the eight percent increase in freshmen students. This increase indicates that our new marketing and admissions initiatives including new scholarships and an increased presence are successful thanks to the hard work and dedication of BHSU staff members."

           BHSU created four new scholarships this year including one specifically designed to encourage Northern Hills area students to enroll. This year Spearfish High School graduates who chose to enroll in BHSU increased by 32 percent.

Jackson also noted that BHSU reached a record number of international students.

BHSU currently has a total headcount of 4,395 including students from all 66 counties in South Dakota, 43 states, and 27 countries. The slight decline, one percent in FTE and two percent in headcount at BHSU, were smaller than projected. Nationally and regionally the number of college students has declined in recent years due to much smaller numbers of high school graduates especially in the South Dakota and neighboring state region. Enrollment for the South Dakota Board of Regents system this year was flat with a decrease of .25 percent overall.

Over the last decade, BHSU has had consistent growth with a 13 percent increase in the number of students since 2005.

BHSU enrollment information: (all percentage increases are over last year unless otherwise noted)  

&middot A 13 percent increase in the number of high school students taking university classes (which count for high school and college credit)

&middot A 12 percent increase in the number of transfer students

&middot The number of Honors students more than doubled

&middot More students are taking 15 credit hours or more (the number required to graduate in four years), a seven percent increase

&middot An increase of nearly eight percent in the number of graduate students

&middot More students are living on campus this year which is due in part to opening of Crow Peak Hall, a state-of-the-art residence

&middot The largest minority group is Hispanic students with a total of 184 an eight percent increase over last year.

Dr. Lois Flagstad, vice president for student affairs and enrollment management, noted that there are many contributing factors for the increase in new students. In addition to the increased marketing presence and new scholarships, Flagstad said that prospective students and their parents often mention the positive experiences and accomplishments of BHSU students and recent graduates.

"Our students and graduates are engaging in amazing research, completing valuable internships, succeeding at graduate school and are serving as leaders in businesses and organizations. A growing awareness of their accomplishments has a positive impact on prospective students," Flagstad said.

In addition to the increase in the Northern Hills, BHSU garnered impressive increases in new students from counties in East River including a 25 percent increase in Minnehaha and Hughes counties and a 21 percent increase Brown County.  BHSU also saw increases in the number of new students from Montana and Wyoming including a 60 percent increase from Gillette, Wyo.

Enrollment at BHSU-Rapid City shows positive movement. In April the former University Center was renamed to allow BHSU to take a stronger role in outreach and marketing.  That change, just six months ago, was successful in stemming a decline in enrollment. Last year there was a nine percent decline with the name change and increased outreach emphasis, the decline this year is just two percent.

"This is a positive trend for BHSU-RC, and it is very, very different than what is happening at the other University Centers," Jackson said. "There&rsquos more work to do to create a stronger awareness of BHSU-RC, however, we are optimistic about the strong role BHSU-RC will continue to play in providing very high quality academic programs and a vibrant campus experience for the citizens in the state&rsquos second largest city."

Since the name change, BHSU has increased the number of degrees and certificates offered at BHSU-RC. Currently there are 50 programs offered entirely in Rapid City. BHSU-RC also will soon launch a Weekend College for those only able to take courses during the weekend and a Senior Citizen&rsquos College for older students wanting more unique types of classes for credit or fun.

For more information about the academic programs at BHSU see

Read the South Dakota Board of Regents news release.


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