RALEIGH (WTVD) --Hundreds of students converged on downtown Raleigh as Shaw University welcomed its freshman class.
The university is ringing in record enrollment of more than 600 first-year students who are now getting settled in the in their residence halls.
"I was a little nervous about that," said Jaylin McNair, a freshman from Greensboro. "I was just like, 'oh my God, so many people.'"
Dr. Tashni-Ann Dubroy with Shaw University is celebrating the bump in demand.
"After we've seen a decline of nine percent for the past six years, it feels good to know that in one year we've been able to turn around the situation," she said.
Dubroy told ABC11 her office has been working to clearly define Shaw's value proposition.
"What we're doing is we're tying ourselves intimately with the surrounding city," said Dubroy.
As the saying goes, "location, location, location!" Dubroy credits marketing campaigns highlighting Shaw's placement in the heart of downtown Raleigh for the school's growth. While freshmen may not yet know their way around campus, the value of going to school in the middle of the ever-evolving City of Oaks is not lost on them.
"It's downtown," said freshman Isaiah Smith. "You got a bunch of banks and corporations and it really rubs off on you. I wanted to make a difference in the world, quickly."
Dubroy said Shaw is shifting tactics to drive recruitment online, instead of relying on face-to-face recruiting. She said meeting millennial students where they are - online - has allowed the school to attract more students from not just around the state, but the world. Among the large freshman class are 40 international students, Dubroy said.
As for what McNair is most looking forward to now that she's officially a Shaw Bear, she lit up and said quickly with a big smile, "Football games. I love football games!"