How (not) to keep them in South Dakota

For the last number of years, we have heard how important it is to entice South Dakota’s top high school students to attend in-state colleges and universities to increase the chance our best and brightest will stay in the state. This week I got an up close view of just how poorly we may be marketing that effort.

My middle daughter is a high school senior. She applied for and has been accepted at both a South Dakota university and one in the University of Nebraska system. This past week, she got a letter from the Nebraska university telling her that because of her ACT score, class rank and high school grades, she was being awarded an all tuition paid academic scholarship (worth about $8,000 a year given current non-resident tuition rates). This was before she even submitted a scholarship application.

When we returned from GDC volleyball Saturday night, she had a letter waiting from the South Dakota university. It told her that what earned her a no-tuition offer in Nebraska qualified her for a $1,000 a year academic scholarship here in South Dakota — and, oh, by the way, send a check for $100 as a “deposit.”

Based on current tuition, fees and room and board, that means attending school in Nebraska would cost her about one-third less a year than staying in South Dakota. Granted cost isn’t everything and she has yet to submit the standard scholarship applications to both schools. Yet given the fact both universities offer the programs in which she is interested, which do you think showed a keener interest, created a greater impression and obtained a significant upper hand?

Destiny is no matter of chance. It is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.

William Jennings Bryan

1 comment to How (not) to keep them in South Dakota

  • Anonymous

    I have 2 real-life scenarios to illustrate how we lose them after we’ve educated them, too. A 4.0 nursing graduate from a SD school ended up taking a job on the east coast last spring, and taking her husband with her, because she couldn’t get a response from any employers here–until after she’d accepted the first offer. An engineering grad took a job out-of-state because that employer made the first offer. An in-state firm made a offer later, for $10,000 less pay. The kid would have stayed in SD, but once you add the stress of having to unaccept the big company’s offer to the lower salary, you’ve lost them. And that’s just in one year, in my little corner! In-state employers have to learn how to play with the big boys if they want to get good help.