This year is one for the record books at Mitchell Technical College, with Build Dakota and Double Edge scholars both at an all-time highs.
This year, 109 Mitchell Tech students are enrolled with full-ride scholarships, totaling $2.2 million. Of those, nine are fully funded by the Build Dakota program, while tuition for the remaining 100 are supplemented by at total of $822,000 in support from industry partners.
“Full-ride scholarships are life-changing, especially in a time when student loan debt is at an all-time high. There are very few of them left, but in South Dakota, we have a program in place that helps a student get the education they need in order to be qualified to fill the labor pool for high-need career fields,” said Clayton Deuter, Vice President for Enrollment Services.
The Build Dakota Scholarship program is a statewide initiative to increase the number of skilled workers entering into high-need sectors of the state’s workforce through South Dakota’s four technical colleges. An initial $50 million – half from T. Denny Sanford, and half from the South Dakota Future Fund – in 2015 provided over 1,900 students with the opportunity to graduate debt-free in exchange for a three-year agreement to work in-state after graduation. The program covers students’ tuition, fees, laptops, books and tools required for qualifying programs.
The Double Edge Scholarship is a Mitchell Tech-specific program designed to broaden the reach of Build Dakota by pairing Build Dakota-eligible students with industry partners who fund 50 percent of the students’ educations. At the conclusion of their instruction, students are guaranteed full-time employment with their sponsoring business for three years.
“Because of industry partnerships, we can offer nearly twice as many scholarships,” Deuter said.
With a signed commitment and promised employment upon
graduation, Double Edge scholars have a natural jump-start on their careers.
“Many of our students work with their sponsoring companies the summer between their two years of school, giving them some experience with the company,” Deuter said. “Sometimes, that means they enter into full-time employment in a higher position.”
Deuter said the employers’ participation in the scholarship selection process is a win for both the student and the company.
“For the student, signing the contract takes them from the big applicant pool to guaranteed employment and a full-ride scholarship. They’ve picked the company, and the company picked them,” he said. “For the company, you’re guaranteed that trained employee that they’ve already vetted who will stay for at least three years.”
And the hope is that the partnerships formed will continue for years to come.
“This scholarship purchases brand loyalty to a company,” Dueter said.
The 109 Build Dakota scholars are among a total 1,227 students enrolled at Mitchell Tech this fall. Of them, 1,031 are full-time students pursuing associate degrees in their chosen fields of study. Another 170 are dually enrolled high school students, earning both high school and college credit on Mitchell Tech’s campus.
While in-person enrollment numbers have dropped in some parts of the country since the COVID-19 pandemic, 892, or 73 percent, of Mitchell Tech students are taking their classes solely in-person, while 222, or 18 percent, are fully online. The remaining 113 are enrolled in both in-person and online studies.
“Enrollment is steady at Mitchell Tech this year, while nationwide enrollment has dropped on many campuses,” Deuter said.
About Mitchell Technical College
Founded in 1968, it is an innovative leader in technical education and a valued partner in global workforce development, preparing students for career success and lifelong learning in an ever-changing world. The state-of-the-art campus, located on the edge of Mitchell, South Dakota, is home to 35 on-campus academic programs and four online programs. The college prides itself on its regionally unique programs and military friendliness.
Learn more about Mitchell Tech at mitchelltech.edu.
Learn more about Build Dakota at builddakotascholarships.com.