MISSOULA, Mont. - University of Montana's graduating class this year, set an enrollment record back in 2010 when many of them were freshman, only to watch the number of new enrollments plummet a few years later.
NBC Montana talked with university officials about how they're trying to reverse the trend, starting with next year's freshman.
"This was the last of the big classes that came in 4 or 5 years ago," said Perry Brown, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs at the University of Montana.
Brown says nearly 3,000 students graduated Saturday at the University of Montana, a good size he says, much bigger than some of the classes that would follow it.
"Nationally, enrollments are down most places," said Brown.
After setting a record for total enrollment in 2011 with 15,669 students, that number fell off a cliff down to 14,425. That's a decrease of more than a thousand students in the last two years and was mostly due to small freshman classes.
"We have two small classes right now. Next year's junior class and senior class are very, very small. They came in as small classes," said Brown.
Brown says that the faculty is still optimistic. He thinks the University of Montana matches up well with other universities and says the business department is booming.
"We're seeing resurgent's in the business department and in others, so we see the pendulum swinging again," said Brown.
NBC Montana asked new graduates what makes the University of Montana stand out.
"Great teachers, nice environment, nice facility," said Tomo Nishio, community health major.
"It's beautiful here and they have excellent faculty," said Amelda Klink, biological sciences major.
Brown says signs pointing to enrollment growth next year gives him hope for a bright future.
"We are hoping and it looks like we are likely to have a larger freshman class coming in, which is very good," said Brown.
NBC Montana was told early enrollment numbers for the incoming freshman class for the fall are up by around 500 students.