CORVALLIS, Ore. -- For the third consecutive year, an Oregonian survey of Portland-area high school valedictorians and other "top academic achievers" shows that more will be attending Oregon State University this year than any other college or university.

Of the 511 students surveyed this year, 62 (12 percent) indicated they'll be continuing their education at OSU. The University of Oregon was the choice of 46 students, and the University of Washington, 34. The survey was part of The Oregonian's "2011 Academic Achievers" project.

That's a slight improvement over last year, when 44 respondents, 11 percent of that year's total, noted their intentions toward OSU. In 2009, 50 listed OSU as their university of choice, just under 11 percent of that year's total. The University of Oregon was second in both of those years.

"We continue to be pleased with the growing number of leading graduates from Portland-area schools who are making Oregon State University and Corvallis their destination of choice," said Assistant Provost for Enrollment Management Kate Peterson. "The degree programs we offer, the strength of the faculty within those programs, the opportunities that our success as a research university makes for students, our location in what is now recognized as America's most innovative city - all of that and more contributes toward our success. It will be great to welcome these students to OSU this fall."

With a commitment to the state's goal of ensuring that 40 percent of Oregonians earn a bachelor's degree or more, OSU is on a growth curve, having added 7,000 students over the past decade.  That growth is taking place principally in targeted demographics -- high-achievers, historically under-represented students and international populations, for instance.

The growth among high-achieving students isn't specific to Portland, though. Continuing a similar trend of the past several years, OSU is enrolling a greater share of high-achievers from around Oregon. This year, more than one-third of all Oregon high schools will send a valedictorian or salutatorian to OSU.

In addition to the attributes noted above, OSU is an appealing choice for the financial assistance it provides to many students. The Campaign for OSU has already far surpassed its initial goal of raising $100 million in financial aid and scholarship monies. And OSU just completed the third year of its "Bridge to Success Program," which combines federal, state and university funds to fully cover tuition and fees for qualifying Oregon students.

For each of the past three years, the program has served about 3,000 Oregonians.

"By being thoughtful and creative in the ways we ensure access to OSU, we make it not only attractive to high-achieving students from Portland and beyond, we make it work for all of our 24,000 students," said Peterson.

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Kate Peterson, 541-737-0759