FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FEBRUARY 10, 2020
WATERTOWN, SD… Even with record setting growth by 190 students last year, Lake Area Tech has used innovation and out-of-the-box programing to continue the momentum. 2020 spring semester, new student starts are up 9% over last spring. Lake Area Tech remains above capacity with 2581students enrolled to-date, up slightly for the year and is in position to surpass 2600 students by the end of the summer session.
Since 2007, the college has experienced an upward growth pattern challenging national decreasing enrollment trends in higher education. Just in the past 5 years, Lake Area Tech has had a 24% increase in student FTE’s, and since 2007, there has been an increase of 84.47%. Bigger picture growth comes with the unduplicated headcount over the past five years of a 39% increase and 106% since 2007.
The steady climb in enrollment is a result of the high retention of students, programs attaining full enrollment, and an increase in online E-Degree seeking and Dual Status students. More specifically, Lake Area Tech is seeing strong growth in the health, business and computer divisions.
Lake Area Tech President Mike Cartney comments, “At a time when higher education is seeing a downward trend in enrollment, Lake Area Tech has been experiencing just the opposite. Through the outstanding efforts and innovation of the Lake Area Tech staff, we have been fortunate to find a home for all of our students, but space is getting tight.” To accommodate the increase in students, Lake Area Tech has added Diesel Technology capacity by moving the Heavy Equipment Operator program off campus to a temporary facility, started the Fixed-Wing Pilot in a temporary location, moved the Robotics lab to a flex space, utilized the ag lab for the Diesel Technology overflow, and increased the number of students taking online programs.
Lake Area Tech is currently in the construction phase of the Prairie Lakes Healthcare Center of Learning which will open this coming fall and will accommodate the entire health division. Cartney continues, “Once the new building is ready and the health programs relocate, some classrooms and labs will begin to open up to manage the continued growth. We will also be able to grow our healthcare division because of the extra space.”
Lake Area Tech’s accomplishments tell the story, including 99% placement rate after graduation, the creative delivery of education, strong industry partnerships, robust retention, and high-demand degrees. Lake Area Tech was named the 2017 recipient of the National Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence which recognizes the outstanding learning outcomes, retention, degree completion, employment and earnings, and success for minority and low-income students.