Doug Mouton / Northshore Bureau Chief

Despite large state budgets cuts and rising admission standards, Southeastern Louisiana University leaders expect the 2011 fall enrollment to be one of the largest in school history.

Final numbers are in as students begin their first full week of classes Monday, but enrollment is expected to top 15,000 students.

Those students make up one of the best prepared student bodies ever, according to school leaders.

'Each year for the past five or six years,' Southeastern President Dr. John Crain said Monday, 'we have higher numbers every year, of high ACT students. Our average ACT scores have gone up pretty much every year in that time frame. Those are important measures for a four year institution.'

Admission standards are up at Southeastern for the 4th time, but Southeastern leaders have kept enrollment growing by taking advantage of the school's location, in Tangipahoa, between Livingston and St. Tammany, three of Louisiana's four fastest growing parishes.

'I wanted to stay close to home,' Student Government President Luke Holloway said Monday. Holloway went to Northlake Christian High School in Covington. 'I think a lot of people are able to identify with that here at Southeastern - that family atmosphere.'

Dr. Crain describes the enrollment as 'strong,' despite large budget cuts.

Southeastern began the 2008 school year with 1,691 total faculty and staff.

Now, that number is down to 1,320 - a 22% cut, but as the 2010 school year was beginning, it looked like those budget cuts would be even greater.

'We're very pleased with the budget this year,' Dr. Crain said. 'We had anticipated and planned for much worse, and it didn't turn out to be that way.'

Dr. Crain credited some of the success with enrollment to it's high school program.

Southeastern partners with 38 area high schools to get qualified seniors early college credit.

The number of students participating in that program, according to Dr. Crain, is up significantly.

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