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Despite a Struggling Economy, Students Flock to Colleges



By Chris Hassan
Posted September 14, 2012 11:00 AM

Enrollment up at many colleges this fall.
Enrollment up at many colleges this fall.
In more stable economic times, many parents would not give much thought to helping their children cover the cost of college so they can earn a bachelor's degree. Today, however, with the national unemployment rate at just over 8%, a number of institutions find themselves offering discounts in order to fill seats, TIME reported earlier this year. Despite these efforts, officials from 375 schools said they still had space left for the fall 2012 semester.

Based on this information, some may think the troubled economy and other factors are keeping individuals from continuing their education at the college level. However, this is not necessarily the case, as evidenced by a number of institutions' enrollment numbers for the current semester.

Baylor University Sets Enrollment Record

At 167 years old, Texas' Baylor University remains an appealing place to earn a degree, as its fall 2012 overall enrollment is its highest ever, reaching 15,364 students, according to the institution's website. This is the second consecutive year that Baylor's enrollment has exceeded 15,000 individuals, as last year, it attracted 15,029 degree seekers.

Overall, 12,918 students are enrolled in undergraduate programs, with 3,254 of them members of Baylor's freshman class. In the fall of 2011, the university's total number of freshmen was 3,033.

The University of Alabama Boosts Enrollment While Staying Selective

Another institution that is seeing record enrollment numbers this fall is The University of Alabama, where 33,602 students are currently working toward degrees, the school's website states. This total represents a 5.8% increase over the fall 2011 enrollment number. While more individuals may be studying at the university, neither they nor their academic programs have experienced a dip in quality.

"This is a truly outstanding freshman class," said Judy Bonner, the university's executive vice president and provost, as quoted by the website. "As our applicant pool has grown, we have become increasingly more selective. These students have exceptional academic credentials."

Freshmen enrollment up at Northern Illinois University

While overall enrollment at Northern Illinois University (NIU) is currently down 4.9%, its number of freshmen degree seekers is up 2.9% to 2,664, NIU Today reports. Like the freshmen attending The University of Alabama, NIU freshmen have exceptional academic credentials, as their mean grade point average is 3.11. This is a significant improvement over the 3.06 last fall's freshmen possessed.

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