If you can't find a job, you might as well go back to school.

That old saw appears to be the driving force behind the gains seen recently by education provider

Apollo Group

(APOL)

, which announced late Monday that it saw a surge in student enrollment during its third quarter.

The increase in enrollment boosted earnings 45% to $201.1 million, or $1.26 a share, compared with $139.1 million, or 85 cents, in the year-ago period. Analysts expected earnings of $1.12.

The company's revenue rose 26% to $1.05 billion. This marked the company's first billion-dollar quarter.

Student enrollment grew 22% to 420,799, while new enrollments were up 23% to 87,500.

Shares in the company spiked at the market open, rising by more than 9% to $72.01.

Copyright 2009 TheStreet.com Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. AP contributed to this report.