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Mr. Modany, you may begin.Kevin M. Modany Thank you very much. Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, and thank you for joining us on our conference call to review our 2012 first quarter results. As usual, Dan Fitzpatrick, our Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, is on the call with me this morning. For our prepared remarks today, we'll follow our standard format and limit our comments so as to allow more time for your questions during the Q&A session. We'll start the call with a few brief thoughts regarding the marketing and advertising results for the quarter. From there, we'll provide a few comments regarding the new student enrollment results. We'll then review student retention and persistence metrics in the first quarter. And at that point, we'll provide an update on the graduate employment metrics of our 2011 graduates. I will then provide an update on the execution of our strategic plan. Before I turn it over to Dan, I will provide a few comments regarding our 2012 share repurchase activity and our efforts to facilitate additional private education loan options for our students. Dan will then provide a few comments regarding the financial results reported in this morning's press release as well as the new credit facility. At that point, we'll open up the call for your questions. Let me begin by providing a review of the 2012 first quarter marketing and advertising results. Advertising expenditures increased 5.8% in the first quarter of 2012 compared to the same prior year period. This was slightly less than we had planned at the start of the quarter due, primarily, to a higher level of preemptions on certain television advertising. For the third consecutive quarter, we experienced a more material year-over-year decline in new student enrollment in criminal justice programs in the first quarter compared to the new student enrollment in our other curricula as a result of self-directed changes to program offerings at select campuses.
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.
Now, a quick update on our graduate employment metrics. The graduate employment rate of our 2011 employable graduates as of April 22, 2012 is approximately 225 basis points higher than the graduate employment rate of our 2010 employable graduates as of the same date in 2011. The average annual salary reported by our 2011 employed graduates as of April 22 was approximately 2.4% higher than the average annual salary reported by our 2010 employed graduates as of that same date in 2011.Read the rest of this transcript for free on seekingalpha.com