Students Benefit From a High Concentration of Higher Learning

Education is big business in Sioux Falls.

Pamela Coyle
On Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - 15:43

Education is big business in Sioux Falls. With 20,000 students, the public school system is the state’s largest.

The city is home to several private universities, including Augustana College, the University of Sioux Falls and Mount Marty College. University Center brings together five public universities – the University of South Dakota, South Dakota State University, Dakota State University, Northern State University and Black Hills State University – on one campus. Considered a new model, the center offers coursework for everything from an associate degree to a doctorate. Courses are held all day, but the big focus is providing evening courses to accommodate adult students with jobs. Augustana College is South Dakota’s largest private college, where incoming freshmen have an average ACT score of 24.5, the state’s highest.

Affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, it’s on U.S. News and World Report’s list as a top 10 Midwest regional liberal arts college and gets ranked high for value, too. One of every four students goes on to graduate studies. The University of Sioux Falls, the state’s oldest private university, is affiliated with the American Baptist Churches, USA. The school also received nods from U.S. News and World Report, making its list of the best baccalaureate colleges in the Midwest. Its most popular majors are business administration, criminal justice, biology, exercise science and elementary education. Higher education options also include Mount Marty College for a nurse anesthesia graduate program; Sanford School of Medicine of the University of South Dakota; Kilian Community College located downtown; and Sioux Falls Seminary, where the student body represents more than 25 denominations.

Public high school students in Sioux Falls routinely post average ACT scores higher than South Dakota as a whole, which itself does significantly better than the national norm. The system has four high schools, five middle schools and 23 elementary schools – one of which, Challenge Center School, is a National Blue Ribbon School. Sharing the same honor is O’Gorman High School, the city’s Catholic high school, which is undergoing a major expansion.