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DSU shows growth despite cold start

Taking the first day of school as a hint, the weather turned to a crisp fall Monday as some southwest North Dakota students walked into the classroom for the first time in months.

Taking the first day of school as a hint, the weather turned to a crisp fall Monday as some southwest North Dakota students walked into the classroom for the first time in months.

At Dickinson State University, Monday was a more commemorative start than the actual beginning of classes -- students attended convocation and a welcome picnic, with a few classes taking place later in the afternoon.

According to preliminary numbers, new enrollment is up, with 373 new students Monday compared to 281 new students last year, said Marie Moe, executive director of enrollment services and communication at DSU. Total enrollment is at 1,257 students.

Official enrollment numbers last year showed 157 first-time freshmen and 124 new transfer students. This year's numbers are still preliminary until official numbers are submitted the fourth week of the semester, but nevertheless show growth. As of Monday, DSU had 181 first-time freshmen and 192 new transfers enrolled, Moe said.

"Generally we have ... some fluctuation where students add or drop classes but what I can tell you is that our new students, our new freshmen and transfers this year, are significantly higher than the same time last year," Moe said.

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One of those new students is Frayad Gebrehana of Ethiopia.

Since he arrived in North Dakota five days ago, the 20-year-old said who plans to study computer science said one thing stands out: "There are no people."

Gebrehana said he's happy so far with DSU, and that everyone is welcoming of him. He has also met another student from Ghana.

Students shuffled quickly from convocation to a picnic Monday afternoon, still dressed for summer but facing autumn weather.

As a strong upper-level low pressure system moves across the northern plains, it's pulling colder Canadian air into the region in its wake, National Weather Service meteorologist Todd Hamilton said.

It won't last, though. Hamilton said each day this week, temperatures will go up 8 to 10 degrees, hitting the 80s by Thursday.

"So that's something to look forward to," he said.

Nonetheless, thanks to the weather this weekend and Monday, Hamilton said, "I would say ... it's definitely probably one of the colder Augusts that we've had."

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Students noticed as they bustled between campus buildings.

"Seems like it's October already," senior creative writing major Cassandra Johnson said as she walked toward May Hall on Monday afternoon.

Moe said Monday morning the school decided to move the welcome picnic from the outdoor King Pavilion to the lower level of the Student Center because of the cold and wind.

"The important thing is to be together and celebrate the start of the day," she said.

Over the summer, the school updated the Student Center with billiards and ping pong tables, and flat-screen TVs.

"Those are going to be changes I think that the students will notice right away," Moe said.

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