The year-over-year decline in new student enrollment in the resident programs in the School of Criminal Justice during the 2012 first quarter represented approximately 65% of the year-over-year decline in new student enrollment in the first quarter of 2012. We also experienced a more material year-over-year decline in new student enrollment in our School of Drafting and Design in the first quarter of 2012 compared to all other schools of study. The year-over-year decline in new student enrollment in the School of Drafting and Design in the first quarter presented approximately 30% of the year-over-year decline in new student enrollment.
As a result of these factors, new student enrollment decreased 17% in the first quarter of 2012 compared to the same period in the prior year.
This year-over-year decline in new student enrollment in the first 3 months of 2012 compared to the first 3 months of 2011 looks generally in line with our previously reported expectations.
As we entered the second quarter of 2012, our key leading enrollment metrics suggested an opportunity for year-over-year increases in new student enrollment in the second half of 2012 for the academic periods beginning in September and December of 2012. However, we should note that we continue to experience greater levels of volatility in the enrollment environment compared to historical trends, which makes it difficult to predict future new student enrollment results with exact accuracy.Moving on to the discussion of student persistence. We again experienced an increase in the number of graduates in the 3 months ended March 31, 2012, compared to the same period in the prior year. Total graduates in the first quarter increased 12% compared to the first quarter of 2011. Student retention in the academic period that ended in March 2012 was consistent with student retention in the same academic period in the prior year. As a result, persistence rate declined 110 basis points to 72.3% as of March 31, 2012, compared to the same date in 2011.
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