Each year some of our students apply to a couple of Colorado schools. I spent some time this summer visiting 7 schools (University of Denver, U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado College, University of Colorado Colorado Springs, Colorado School of Mines, University of Colorado Boulder, and Colorado State University) to see first hand what they have to offer. I came back both knowledgeable and impressed. I saw a mix of private and public universities and schools that had small, medium and large numbers of undergraduates. This Blog post will cover Colorado College, a small college with nearly 1900 students. I will cover the rest of the schools over the next month.
There is a wide range of colleges in the area. In addition to an expected Colorado based student body, there seemed to be a fair number of students from California high schools, as well as throughout the country. Some of that is attributed to the Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) whereby eligible students can go to an out-of-state WUE school for 1.5 times what an in-state resident would pay. Whether you believe that Denver has 245 or 300 days of Sunshine each year, I can attest to the brightest blue sky imaginable. I found a wide range of interests from the students, depending on the school. Some came to their college because of activities like snowboarding, but most students cited academics as the reason they chose their school.
One surprise was the student union at CU Boulder that had a great outdoor pool. But I will highlight others that will best showcase their schools.
The facilities at every one of these schools were top notch. Like most schools in other locations, each Colorado school I visited was unique: an important reminder that researching a school and truly understanding its value is a more thorough process than a simple internet search. One commonality that I did find was the commitment to taking care of the student.
Look for my follow-up posts in this series where I will highlight the other schools to give you both a written and visual view of each school.
Colorado College is the only small liberal arts school in the Rocky Mountains. What separates this school from any other in the U.S. (to the best of my knowledge) is that a student takes one course at a time in a “block”. Each block covers 3 and 1/2 weeks. And there is a fair amount of flexibility to drop a block, take a summer block, etc. So, it will be all about that one course and as you might expect, there is little room for getting off track. Students that will do well in this environment are those that will advocate for themselves.
A CC admissions counselor might favor a student recommendation that highlights a student who succeeded through a struggle, likely because that will confirm the student’s ability to work through things and the block program requires focus and the ability to stay on track.
The proof that CC knows how to make this unique system work is that their retention rate is 97%. Students that start Freshman year come back Sophomore year. Still, CC is aware of some of the academic pressure that is placed on its students and offers six free counseling sessions for their 4 years at Colorado College.
The facilities are superb.
CC takes the view that career counseling is about career exploration. They want their students to be confident, not cocky. There is a solid connection between the college and Colorado Springs for jobs and internships.
There are some unique majors–Southwest Studies and Self Design are two that come to mind–but the most popular majors are Economics, Environmental Science, Political Science and Psychology. CC prides itself by providing a solid liberal arts set of programs. CC students are encouraged to explore interdisciplinary paths. For example, a student could choose to study both Business and Economics, or Health alongside Justice and Ethics.
Colorado College also offers special combination undergrad/grad programs:
3:2 4:2 Engineering
For Prospective Students:
The admissions process primarily favors the student transcript followed by a demonstration of a “heavy course load” and approximately 7-8 AP’s.
Relative to the whole test optional discussion, CC views themselves as “test weird”. If a student has an SAT or ACT test score that is very good but is not viewed as stronger than the student's GPA and rigor, CC recommends not to submit.
Colorado College is interested in what students do with their free time. They gave examples of enrolled students who described their woodworking hobby and one who raised bantam roosters. They are looking for the academically strong student, but those that are authentic and can bring their uniqueness to the college.
For this most recent class, the acceptance rate for Early Decision was 26% and 16% for those that applied Early Action. They accepted 20 students out of the 600 on the waitlist.
From a Financial Aid perspective, CC views themselves as "Need Aware".
To summarize, Colorado College is a unique liberal arts school. Prospective students need to fully understand what is involved with their block academic offering. For those that fit with eyes wide open, it is a fantastic school.
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Neal Schwartz, Owner
College Planning of Westchester
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