SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) — Several Siouxland colleges and universities saw an uptick in enrollment for the fall semester.

After colleges across the country saw their number of students decrease during the pandemic, local university officials said their fall semester turnout has been better than ever in some cases.

Caitlin Alber is a freshman swimmer at Morningside University, double majoring in Elementary and Special Education. Originally from Boone, Iowa, she toured Morningside in her sophomore year of high school and has wanted to be a part of the Mustang community ever since.

“As soon as I started here, I was already hanging out with swimmers,” she said. “My roommate is a swimmer and we started a freshman group chat with all of our swimmers. It’s such a community-based thing.”

The University of South Dakota (USD) has seen its enrollment rise by 7%. The number of Native American undergraduate students has increased by nearly 18% compared to last year and university president Sheila Gestring credited that growth to the school’s ‘Native American Living Learning Community’.

“Each week, they gather and share a meal, bring in a speaker of some kind, provide each other with support, answer eachother’s questions and, you know, a little food and fellowship, I think,” she said.

Gestring said USD’s Computer Science Department is one of the key programs that has helped recruit international students. USD’s School of Fine Arts also saw more than 43% new undergraduate enrollment growth over last year.

Northeast Community College is enjoying its largest enrollment in 10 years after a 3% increase from 2021 and Amanda Nipp, vice president of student services, said giving high schoolers a head start helps grow the incoming classes.

“We’ve increased the number of dual credit offerings that we have for area high school students, so that  students can get that college credit while still in high school, and that has paid off significantly,” she said.

Greg Van Dyke is the director of admissions at Dordt University, which saw a 4% increase in enrollment. This fall semester marked Dordt’s highest enrollment in school history. Van Dyke said 40% of the student body comes from more than 400 miles away, but the community makes Siouxland feel like home.

“Talking to community members before school started this fall, them sharing that they’re excited to have students back on campus, and so Sioux Center definitely wraps their arms around our students and they need to because our students do come from a long way away, so they’re not coming home on the weekends,” he said.

He said the variety of programs the school offers, ranging from agriculture to social work, also play a big role in attracting students to Dordt University.