Getting a jumpstart on education

NSU student took high school dual credit courses before attending Northern

ABERDEEN, S.D. – Kyla Schuster has made countless connections as a student at Northern State University – including through her job at the Student Center information desk and her role as an orientation leader.

“I’ve just met so many people,” said Schuster, a native of Roslyn. “I tell my orientees in my orientation leader group, ‘the more faces that you recognize on campus, the more it feels like home. So making those connections helps make you feel like you fit.”

Schuster’s connection to Northern started earlier than a lot of students, thanks in part to the NSU High School Dual Credit Program. This program allows high school students to enroll in college-level courses and receive both college and high school credit. Schuster took two online dual credit classes through Northern, college algebra and composition, during her senior year.

“I knew that getting a jumpstart would help me in the long run for sure,” Schuster said. “And then also, when the classes in high school are just not at your level, it’s a good way to get a jumpstart while also challenging yourself – keeping school interesting.”

Attended NSU Upward Bound

Schuster’s first experience with Northern was even earlier – she’d been coming to campus since the summer before her freshman year of high school to attend the Upward Bound Summer Program – and she said she’s always wanted to attend NSU.

“I’ve known since the second grade I wanted to be a teacher, so it just kind of fit,” Schuster said. “Why not Northern?”

Attending Upward Bound and being able to familiarize herself with campus strengthened her desire to come to Northern.

“Knowing campus, it just helps make it feel like home,” she said.

Schuster credits then Upward Bound Director Rocky Burkett, who presented to her class at Webster Area High School. 

“I might’ve never heard of it, and who knows where I would be now,” Schuster said. “I always say I can basically benefit TRIO for why I’m here.”

Dual Credit Program Sealed Decision

Taking dual credit helped seal her decision to attend NSU.

“The dual credits just kind of gave you an understanding of how all the classes would go,” she said.

NSU offers dual credit courses on its main campus in Aberdeen, at the Huron Community Campus or online. Statewide, the university leads the way in high school students taking dual credit courses.

“We’re happy to provide that opportunity for students looking to get an early start on their college education,” said NSU Vice President of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs Dr. Jeremy Reed. “And we hope that once they take those courses, they’ll want to stay on and enroll as a full-time student after high school.”

NSU Focuses on Student Success

Schuster is definitely happy with her choice to attend NSU.

“It’s a school that is always focused on your success,” she said, adding, “Working on campus, everyone always understands you’re a student first. Your success is always important.”

Schuster is an elementary education major with a minor in early childhood education and a K-12 classroom technology endorsement. She will student teach in fall 2019 and graduate that December – a semester ahead because of the dual credit program, as well as courses through Upward Bound and the South Dakota Jumpstart program.

Highly Involved on Campus

On campus, Schuster is an orientation leader, supplemental instructor, Honors Program student, Exponent assistant editor, and is involved with TRIO Student Support Services. A lot of people might know her from her work at the information desk, a position she started her first semester at Northern.

“Hopefully they feel like they can ask me questions,” she said. “It’s another thing that helps recognize faces.”

Taking advantage of as many opportunities as possible really got Schuster ahead in her education – and that’s her advice for current high school students.

“Even if it’s outside of your comfort zone, just grab as many opportunities as you can. You won’t regret trying,” she said. “Even if things don’t work out, you’ll have that experience to take with you.”

For more information about taking dual credit courses at Northern, visit the NSU High School Dual Credit webpage or contact Northern’s Office of Online and Continuing Education at 605-626-2554 or

About Northern State University

Northern State University is a regional university that offers outstanding academics and exceptional extracurricular activities at an affordable price on a safe, welcoming campus. Northern State recently announced its Educational Impact Campaign, with a goal of raising $45 million for a new South Dakota School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, new athletic and recreation fields, and an on-campus regional sports complex. Once the campaign is complete, NSU will be the recipient of more than $100 million in privately funded building projects and scholarships within a decade. To learn more, visit NSU Admissions.