Falling enrollment seems to be the 'new normal' at the University of Montana. 

Vice President for Integrated Communication Peggy Kuhr said the numbers are plain; enrollment continues to decline at the University of Montana for a variety of reasons.

First...the numbers. On Friday, the University of Montana announced an overall, preliminary fall enrollment of 13,358 students. Fall 2015 headcount enrollment at the mountain campus was down 3.8 percent, while Missoula College numbers were down 6.5 percent. The headcount for graduate students grew 2 percent.

Kuhr said the trend nationally is a reduction in enrollment.

"There's a report that came out yesterday that said more than half of the admissions directors across the country are reporting that they are very concerned about meeting enrollment goals for this year, let alone next year," Kuhr said. "We're also looking at increased competition for the students who do plan to attend the university. In Montana, there are fewer high school students graduating, and there is more competition for that lower number."

The drop in enrollment at Missoula College has to do with an overall improving economy.

"During the recession, we saw a greatly increased enrollment, but now that the economy has improved, our enrollment has declined somewhat," she said. "One highlight, though is our welding program. There are lots of jobs in welding, so we have added another welding class at Missoula College."

Kuhr said the University has made significant changes in the past several years to respond to enrollment challenges and to ensure that more students who come to UM are prepared, stay and are successful. That new and continuing work includes enhanced advising, additional scholarship money, faculty outreach to Montana high schools, additional recruiting visits and new marketing materials.

UM continues to invest in and grow its digital channels, which play an increasingly important role in how prospective students make college decisions.