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Enrollment numbers are pleasing

The number of college graduates in Mississippi has long lagged behind national averages, but increased enrollment at the state’s universities shows we are taking a stab at bettering the state and its residents.

The state’s Institutions of Higher Learning on Thursday released university enrollment figures for this fall. All eight public universities saw an increase in enrollment. In fact, it was the largest percentage increase since 2001, and growth at the four largest schools helped the surge.

Total statewide enrollment reached 81,132, with the University of Mississippi marking the 21st straight year of an enrollment increase. Between UM in Oxford and the University Medical Center in Jackson, the number of students is close to 24,000.

It was increases at UM, and the state’s three other larger universities where enrollment rose more than 3 percent, that created an overall increase despite decreases at Alcorn State University, Delta State University, Mississippi University for Women and the University of Southern Mississippi.

UM offers such a wide variety of courses all the way up to the graduate levels that students flock there for a reason. There is a place for everyone ranging from a budding scientist to an enterprising law student to a resident who was terminated from a job during the recession and needs to further his or her education.

Higher Education Commissioner Glenn Boyce said rising figures is a positive for Mississippi.

“They are preparing to be the next generation of teachers, doctors, nurses, engineers, entrepreneurs and leaders of our state,” Boyce said in a statement. “We also know that they will earn more and make a significant difference in moving Mississippi’s economy forward.”

The city almost doubling every fall might be annoying when trying to get into a restaurant, finding a parking spot anywhere or driving on Jackson or University avenues, but think of all the positive growth, development and enterprising ideas happening right here in Oxford. With enrollment like this, UM could be where a cure for cancer is found or a future president of the United States gets the idea to run for office. It also can be the start of a great young mind opening up a company that eventually employs hundreds right here in Lafayette County, where so many students want to stay to start a life after graduation.

Think of the long-term benefits for our state, region and country when stuck in traffic today and enjoy this enrollment news. It’s one spot where Mississippi isn’t trailing the rest of the U.S.