Montana State move-in day

Student volunteers unpack an incoming student's truck at Montana State University for the school's freshman move-in day.

BOZEMAN - School is almost back in session, and for Montana State University, that means facing a handful of new challenges, such as rising enrollment and major construction.

Enrollment isn't slowing down for the state's largest university.

School representatives say they expect the incoming freshman class to rival the record-breaking size of last year's freshman class.

And thanks to funding by the state legislature, MSU's historic Romney Hall is getting a major makeover to the of $25 million. The renovation will give the building 860 more seats to help ease the growing enrollment.

"As exciting as all of this is," says Montana State President Waded Cruzado, "I just want to go back to... we understand very well, it's about being student-centered, and it's about taking care of the people we have at Montana State."

MSU is still dealing with the double-gym collapses it suffered in March, which closed the Marga Hosaeus Fitness Center for months. In the meantime, the university is finding creative solutions for students to stay active.

As the replacement gyms are constructed, students can use a pair of temporary blow-up gyms, which will open October 1st.

It's not just these changes that are coming to MSU this year, but a whole new class of freshmen.

It was a welcoming atmosphere for new Bobcats Wednesday morning, as students got ready for the biggest move of their lives.

One of those students is Great Falls native, Julia Nicholson.

"I'm really excited... just starting a whole new life pretty much," she said about entering into her college years. "Gonna be on my own, it's scary but gonna be pretty fun, I think."

Just being in Bozeman for college means Julia is breaking the mold, because there's maroon flowing through her veins: she comes from a big University of Montana family.

While the day was full of "hello"s for students, it was the goodbyes that were the hardest to say.

"I have a younger sister and two older brothers," Julia said, "and I'm really going to miss all of them."

"[I'm] excited for her," said Julia's mother, Paige Nicholson, "a little sad, because she's a great kid and we're gonna miss her at our house. But just thrilled that she gets to have this experience and she gets to start doing what she wants to do with her life."

Julia is part of the largest group of students to ever be housed by the university.

And for new students like Julia, there's a lot to look forward to in the coming years.

"Just meeting new people, mainly," Julia said about what excites her about college, "and just kind of growing as a person and changing a little bit."

With just a few hours left before she dropped her daughter off at school, Paige had a few final pieces of advice for Julia.

"Well, I have all kinds of advice, and I've been giving it to her her whole life," Paige said, adding: "Make friends, be smart, make good choices. She's really ready to go and getting on with the next chapter of her life."

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