USD Sees Highest Freshman Retention Rate Ever Despite Pandemic

Aug 25, 2020

A sign on the door outside the Muenster University Center on the USD campus in Vermillion.
Credit Jackie Hendry

The abrupt end of the spring semester has effected how many college students come back to school—but not in the way many might expect. The University of South Dakota is seeing unusually high numbers of freshman returning as sophomores this year.

USD President Sheila Gestring says that freshman retention rate was 6% lower than the previous year in May. But that was before the university announced plans to bring students back to campus.

“Right now, our retention of last year’s cohort is the highest on record at the university of South Dakota," she told the Sioux Falls Downtown Rotary on Monday. "So hopefully, that’s an indication that the students feel very confident about the plans that our six regental institutions put in place in order to keep them safe and provide as much face-to-face instruction as we can.”

Fall enrollment for the state’s public universities won’t be finalized until next month. Those numbers should provide more details on how the pandemic has impacted college enrollment in South Dakota.