Simplified: The percentage of Sioux Falls high schoolers going straight to college after graduation went down in 2020. At the same time, the fastest-growing job sectors are the ones that need degrees.

Why it matters

  • The majority (about 65 percent) of jobs in 2022 will require post-secondary education, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. Fastest-growing areas include computer programming, healthcare and community services.
  • About 55 percent of the Class of 2020 went straight to college after graduation, according to the Sioux Falls School District – a slight decline from 59 percent the two years prior.
  • Reasons for foregoing college vary from financial need to the desire to take a gap year to existing job opportunities.
"There's just a lot of options," said David Meyers, a counselor at Lincoln High School.

Meet a college-less graduate

KaSarah Welding had high hopes to attend college after graduating from Roosevelt High School, but the reality was, it was too expensive.

"If I had the money, absolutely I'd be in school right now, but I just have to put work first," Welding said.

She's worked full-time since she was 14, and she recently took a full-time job as a bank teller.

The pandemic also played a role in her decision when her family took a financial hit as a result.

What happens next?

Meyers expects more students will opt to enroll in post-secondary education once the pandemic slows down. He's seen some students hold off out of a desire to avoid virtual learning.

If history is any indicator, he's right. The Sioux Falls School District has been tracking the Class of 2013, for example, over the last seven years.

  • By 2020, nearly half of them had graduated college, and three-fourths had at least attended some college at some point.

And Welding? She's hoping to get her degree and find a career in marketing.

  • She also wants to see postponing college normalized rather than looked down upon, especially for people like her who don't have the financial means to afford tuition right away.