More freshmen

Early figures indicate a bright enrollment trend at Southeast Missouri State University. This year's freshman class is more than 20 percent larger than last year's -- an increase that is not reflected at all nearby universities.

University officials are attributing the enrollment jump to several factors, one being the attraction to students of the new River Campus for the arts. Enrollment in those programs is up 500 percent, officials say, and plans have been made for extra classes to accommodate students majoring in music, art, theater and dance.

Another university official said the value of a college degree may also be contributing to the overall rise in freshman enrollment. He explained that more and more high school graduates see the investment in a college education at Southeast as paying big dividends throughout a life of employment. As a result, more students who might have gone straight into the workforce are instead enrolling at the university or working and going to school at the same time.

The enrollment increase is positive for Cape Girardeau and Southeast Missouri. The university is a major economic factor in this area, and strong enrollment figures are important. The university is to be commended for its efforts to increase enrollment and provide students with a first-class learning experience, no matter what they are majoring in.