7 reasons to study in South Dakota

University study shouldn’t just be about hitting high grades. It should be a fulfilling experience – a voyage of self-discovery and a stepping stone to adulthood. When it comes to choosing where you want to study, you should consider somewhere that breathes adventure and gives you the space to grow between classes and campus activities.

Why not go for somewhere different from all places you’re used to? Somewhere that enriches your understanding of the world. Somewhere that challenges you and shows you independence. One hidden treasure in the United States is South Dakota.

The state of South Dakota, located in the upper-Midwest, has all the ingredients needed for a rich and inspiring student life. Renowned for being a frontier state, it’s the perfect launching pad into young adulthood, with its myriad of national parks to its thriving towns and cities.

Students can treat themselves to miles and miles of untouched American wilderness, complete with diverse flora and fauna, while enjoying all the luxuries that come with modern life – so much so that studying there is like having a long and productive vacation! And who doesn’t love holidays? There are many great reasons to study in South Dakota, and here are just a few:

1. Rushmore: Gaze on America’s infamous stone monument

Image via South Dakota State University

South Dakota is the proud host of America’s most famous stone sculpture – Mount Rushmore. Featuring the 60-foot faces of four venerated U.S. presidents (George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt), the monument has achieved iconic status all around the world and remains a major global tourist attraction. To soak up all that history, take a stroll on the half-mile Presidential Trail which provides stunning views of this magnificent monument.

2. Badlands: Investigate an unbelievable landscape

Image via Joel Hernandez

Visit the breath-taking landscape of Badlands National Park, a site that will transport you to a real-life alien world! With a majestic maze of buttes, canyons, pinnacles, and spires, Badlands represents one of Earth’s most intriguing locations. Catch a glimpse of the distant past and view the fossilized remains of three-toed horses and saber-toothed cats. With the park spanning over 200,000 acres, there are a wealth of hiking and camping trails to keep you on your toes! Stargazing at night is a particularly rewarding experience, perfect if you’re in a contemplative mood or just want a break from your studies.

3. Deadwood: Get a taste of the Wild West

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Are you a fan of cowboys, gunslingers, Stetsons and saloons? If you’re a Wild West enthusiast, you should definitely pay a visit to Deadwood – an 1870s gold rush frontier town that’s now a thriving tourist site, complete with museums, casinos, concerts, historic sites, spas and parades. A landmark city in the lore of the American West, it’s so famous that HBO even made an award-winning television series about it. You get to see re-enactments of gunslinger duels, attend rodeos, and walk in the footsteps of historic Wild West legends.

4. Plenty of fossils for dinosaur fans

Image via Volkan Yuksel

South Dakota is a haven for dinosaur fans, with fossil depositaries and museums spread all over the state. Millions of years ago, the space now occupied by South Dakota State was home to countless species of prehistoric creatures. You can find “Stan”, a 12-foot tall and 40-foot long (almost) complete Tyrannosaurus rex, housed at the Museum at Black Hills Institute in Hill City. You can also pay a visit to the Mammoth Site (outside Hot Springs), which contains the world’s largest concentration of mammoth remains. There are plenty of prehistoric-focused museums throughout the state, and no one could really blame you for spending hours – even days – at each one!

5. Thriving and vibrant cities bustling with activity

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South Dakota is mostly a rural state, but has many thriving and vibrant cities and small towns offering a unique and contemporary lifestyle. The state’s two biggest cities, Sioux Falls and Rapid City, are rife with restaurants, bars, cinemas, museums, cultural festivals, malls, parks and more. Play a game of commando paintball at the Wild Water West Waterpark in Sioux Falls, or spend a day at Reptile Gardens near Rapid City – the largest reptile zoo in the world.

6. Living that’s both affordable and convenient

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Studying and living in South Dakota is far more affordable than in bigger, more well-known U.S. states, though the former also offers world-class education and a high standard of living. The savings you gain as a result of this can be diverted to pursuits like travel and recreation. It’s a wonderful bargain – you pay less but still receive a well-rounded and fulfilling experience.

7. Plenty of outdoor activities to choose from

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For outdoor lovers, the Eastern side of South Dakota offers a plethora of choices for all kinds of adventures. One can spend the day or go camping in the Palisades State Park, or visit the falls of the Big Sioux River in Sioux Falls. The city of Brookings offers adrenaline lovers amazing bike trails, as well as great hiking routes perfect to spend the day and connect with nature.

The best choice

So studying in South Dakota is a no-brainer! There are many universities in the state, such as South Dakota State University (SDSU), situated in Brookings. It is the largest and most comprehensive university in the State, offering outstanding education in 183 fields of study from aerospace to zoology. Its academic prowess is also widely recognized – U.S. News and World Report ranks SDSU among the top 200 national universities in the country. The university’s agricultural science, biological science, nursing, pharmacy, and engineering programs are particularly strong.

SDSU’s academic prowess may be due to its impressive student-to-faculty ratio of 17.8 to 1. Highly qualified instructors are able to give students the personal attention and support that they need to master the syllabus. Academic staff often have years of experience in industry and are research experts in their respective fields, providing students with a wealth of real-life case studies and up-to-date knowledge on industry trends.

Image via South Dakota State University

Thanks to its global outlook, SDSU has a large and diverse international campus community, drawing students from 81 different countries, giving you the chance to take in multiple cultural perspectives. To ease their transition into American life, international students may enhance their English proficiency, learn to communicate with confidence, and explore American culture at the SDSU English Language & Culture Institute (ELCI).

The strong community at SDSU is further enhanced by more than 200 student organizations, ranging from the Camera and Fishing Clubs, to the Criminal Justice Association. These activities allow students to build long-lasting friendships as well as to network for future career opportunities. If you like to keep fit, there are full-sized gym courts, an indoor pool, a rock wall and much more.

The South Dakota experience: Study, explore, enjoy

SDSU offers the best of South Dakota in a package: affordable tuition fees, world-class education, and the opportunity to explore an intriguing region rich with curiosities! The university is perfect for those who believe learning should be more than books and numerical figures. An adventure in South Dakota is an education in of itself.

Image via South Dakota State University

This article was sponsored by the South Dakota State University (SDSU), the largest and most comprehensive university in South Dakota, with over 12,000 students and courses in 183 fields. Established in 1881, the university has earned a reputation for world-class education and a strong, diverse student community. SDSU places emphasis on experiential learning that reaches beyond the classroom, preparing students for success in their future careers. It instils students with a global outlook, encouraging them to be aware of important issues and trends and pursue leadership roles within society. Students have the opportunity to collaborate with nationally respected professors on research projects, participate in internships with far-reaching career implications, and choose from over 200 student organizations that fit around their passions.