From 1908-1960, the South Dakota School of Agriculture at Brookings educated young men and women from across South Dakota in a unique atmosphere. For five months of the year, students lived on the campus of South Dakota State College and took "practical" classes to prepare for life on the farm and in the home. As a replacement for their high school course, the school primarily taught vocationalagriculture and home economics but did not neglect traditional subjects such as English and arithmetic. Students took part in a full range of extracurricular activities and even published a newspaper. Aggies, as they were widely known, thus reaped the benefits of a high school education while still working at home or earning money to pay tuition for seven months of the year.

In the earliest years, enrollment in the school was very high. Both boys and girls were represented, and many students were older than average high school students were. High schools were not common in rural South Dakota, and those that were available were often at quite a distance, requiring students to live away from home. The five-month calendar was particularly attractive to rural students, and the location at South Dakota State University made many older students feel less conspicuous.

Following the 1917 passage of the Smith-Hughes Act, which provided funding for vocational and home economics in the public schools, enrollment began to decline slightly. The establishment of high schools throughout the state also assisted in the decline, although rural students continued to attend. Following World War II, the school began to offer a certificate in agriculture for high school graduates, similar to an associate's degree. By the early 1950's the number of girls enrolled dropped to two, and the home economics courses were dropped entirely. The agriculture classes were still offered however, although enrollment was often very low for the high school courses. In 1959, due to the drop in enrollment and growth in the number of high schools across the state, South Dakota State College decided to discontinue the high school courses and offer an associate's degree in agriculture as a replacement for the post-graduate work. In June, 1960, the last students graduated from the School of Agriculture, and it officially ceased to exist.