Black Hills State University has a decrease in overall enrollment this fall; the University has a three percent increase in retention. BHSU enrollment this fall is 3,608 students, a six percent decline over last fall.
“The good news is that our continuing students returned at a higher rate than in past years,” BHSU President Laurie S. Nichols said. “We saw an increase in retention and persistence rates at every level, freshmen to sophomore, sophomore to junior, and junior to senior. The three percent increase in retention is encouraging and a good indicator for the University.”
Nichols noted that changes due to the pandemic had a negative effect on enrollment. She added that the loss in student headcount came primarily from two groups: high school students taking Dual Credit courses and first-year enrollees.
“Despite many efforts to mitigate the impact of COVID, it had a negative effect on our enrollment this fall,” Nichols said. “The late start for area high school students in western South Dakota, while BHSU had an earlier start, played a factor in Dual Credit enrollment.” There are 143 fewer high school students taking courses at BHSU this fall as compared to last year.
The other group that showed a decline is new freshmen.
“Nationally, and at BHSU, we found that many new students were deciding to defer their admission to spring or even next fall due to COVID concerns,” Nichols said. This trend was especially prevalent among lower income families and minority students. BHSU officials noted that the decline was expected as universities across the nation are seeing their low-income students struggle to continue their education during the pandemic.
In addition to the increase in retention, BHSU showed an increase in several other key areas. BHSU had a 12 percent increase in the number of students enrolled in master’s degrees.  BHSU also has a 23 percent increase in the number of students from all adjacent states-- Wyoming, Nebraska, North Dakota, Montana, Minnesota as well as Iowa and Colorado.
Fall 2020 Enrollment Facts:
  • BHSU draws students from all across South Dakota – from every county.
  • BHSU has students from 46 states and 31 countries (some students attend online classes).
  • A decrease of 143 high school students taking Dual Enrollment classes.
  • This fall BHSU had a 23% increase in enrollment from neighboring states – Wyoming, Nebraska, North Dakota, Montana, Minnesota as well as Iowa and Colorado – that receive in-state tuition through the South Advantage program.
  • BHSU has 84 fewer new first time freshman as compared to last fall.
  • The number of continuing students showed an increase. The retention of continuing students increased to 73 percent this year, up three percent.
  • BHSU had a 12 percent increase in the number of graduate student headcount as compared to last fall.
  • New 12-week courses, which aligned with regional high school start dates, were a popular choice for Dual Credit and current students.