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Area colleges work together to put students first

Black Hills State University and Western Dakota Tech recently conducted an Administrative Personnel Session aimed at helping students pursue higher education.

The session brought decision-makers from both campuses together to collaborate on course offerings, transfer agreements, and a dual admissions project.

“We all are working toward the same goal, helping students in western South Dakota and beyond pursue and complete their higher education goals,” said Ann Bolman, Ed.D., President of Western Dakota Tech. “Together, we can achieve more for our students.”

Leaders from both colleges recognize high-school education alone does not cut it in the job market anymore and that there is a place in the higher education landscape for a wide variety of educational offerings.

The group discussed a dual admissions project to help undecided students discover which college would be the best fit for their career goals. It would also help underprepared students obtain the experience they need to be successful in college-level courses.

Debbie Toms, Western Dakota Tech Student Success Director, said every student has the ability to succeed in higher education.

“We really believe in our students at Western Dakota Tech and Black Hills State, and we know that both colleges have wonderful things to offer,” said Toms. “Sometimes students need a little extra help getting ready for college courses and finding a program that fits their needs. Depending on their goals, a two-year or four-year degree could be the best route, and we are all focused on finding the best fit for each individual student.”

The group also discussed plans for two-plus-two agreements that would see more Western Dakota Tech Associates degree programs transferring directly into relevant Bachelor’s degree programs at Black Hills State. While Black Hills State and Western Dakota Tech already have transfer agreements in place, these specific arrangements will create direct pathways for students who want to continue their education in a specific field.

Another topic of discussion was new programming. The colleges are identifying industries in the area with high potential for collaboration opportunities, such as culinary arts, hospitality, and health care.

The group plans to continue to work on these initiatives with the goal of better serving students for years to come.

“We’re excited about the continued partnership between Black Hills State and Western Dakota Tech,” said Dr. Bolman. “We know our efforts will benefit students now and into the future and we’re excited to make that happen.”

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