Along with attempts to enroll a larger first-year class, the University of South Dakota worked to piece together a geographically diverse one as well.
Devoid of high school visits from university representatives, first-years from faraway states often learn about USD from word of mouth.
“I found out basically through my parents. My dad told me about it because it’s close to where my uncle lives in Omaha,” Marie Rife, a first-year from Ahwatukee,
Although it wasn’t a traditional choice, Rife’s reasons for accepting her admission to USD was monetary.
“They told me I was crazy, but it’s cheaper to go here than anywhere in Arizona, and the weather’s not as hot,” Rife said.
Other first-years wanted their college experience to be away from their home state.
“I was looking for a change in scenery more than anything,” first-year Sam Johnson said.
Johnson is from Las Vegas, Nev., and initially learned about USD from her mother.
Once both first-years showed interest in the university, they began receiving information, which they said was constant, including postcards, phone calls and emails.
Rife even has an entire binder dedicated to information the university sent her.
“My parents told me it was a good idea to organize it,” Rife said. “They certainly sent me enough stuff to keep me interested.”
The majority of students at USD still come from South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, and Minnesota, although Rife and Johnson have met first-years from California, Arizona, Louisiana and even Russia.
Travis Vlasman, associate director of Admissions, said that the first step to recruiting students from other states is gaining names.
“We have to have names to work,” he said. “We are buying more names.”
The names are mainly found through educational searches. From there, the university begins mailing students information.
Vlasman said that at this point, students from farther away do not receive any more mail from the university than students who reside in nearby states.
Megan Rohlck, an assistant director of Admissions, will be going on the university’s first recruiting trip to California in about 10 years. She will be discussing the benefits of USD compared to universitites in California, especially since USD, even with out of state tuition, costs less than California universities, and that California colleges are
The university is also formulating plans to be present at a college fair in Phoenix, Ariz., after the new year.
Vlasman said many students who migrate to college attend USD because of programs. He said one student searched colleges with anthropology programs and that USD appeared first in the results.
“A lot of the time it is program related,” Vlasman said.
Around 10 percent of the student body hails from states other than South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, and Minnesota. South Dakota alone claims over 67 percent of the student body, followed by Iowa, Minnesota and Nebraska.
“It has grown, but not leaps and bounds,” Vlasman said. “It gets more diverse
Admissions spent last year developing a virtual tour to place on the USD website to lure students to the campus because many student can’t afford a plane ticket to visit. This, along with the university’s upgrade to Division I athletics, has been a major contributor in luring students from the east and west coasts to apply to USD.