Colorful tulips and green grass lined the highway from the Denver Airport to Colorado Springs, but it was the majestic snow covered mountains that commanded my attention. The Colorado Rockies are an outdoor enthusiast’s dream and certainly part of the appeal of Colorado College. CC is the only elite, small liberal arts college in the Rocky Mountains.
My first stop on CC’s campus was the admissions building, Cutler Hall. It is a beautiful stately structure that dates back to 1880. Much of the campus reminded me of a New England liberal arts college. A mixture of old and new buildings and beautiful athletic fields dot the compact campus in a suburban area of Colorado Springs.
Our tour guide was a double English and Spanish major from Colorado. He is a blues dancer and plays in the band in his spare time. He chose CC because of its strong liberal arts focus and the block plan. The 2,000 undergraduate students at CC take one class at a time. The block begins on a Monday and ends 3 ½ weeks later on a Wednesday with a final exam/project. Each class meets for three hours Monday-Friday from 9-12. Science courses have an additional lab in the afternoon a few days a week. Students can expect 2-6 hours of homework each night for the single class. Our tour guide told us that the block plan allows students to become deeply immersed in the designated class.
Students are required to fulfill general education courses within the liberal arts and sciences. All students must complete a First Year Experience (FYE) course: a two-block, seven-week course with a writing component. Biology, economics and English are the three most popular majors here. Many students have double majors/minors and/or select interdisciplinary programs.
The block plan makes studying abroad and/or away extremely accessible and easy to coordinate. It is not surprising that nearly 80-percent of all students study off campus. Faculty led block abroad courses allow students to study in a foreign country during the standard block (3 ½ weeks). Some students choose more traditional abroad experiences through other schools’ pre-approved semester or yearlong programs. Likewise, many students engage in field study during a block. The fieldwork can be nearby or it may require travel to another domestic or abroad location.
There is a lot to do outside the classroom too. Performing arts groups are popular. Dance is big! Most varsity athletes participate in division III athletics except hockey, which competes in division I. Hockey is a popular spectator sport. The hockey rink is a 15-minute away via campus shuttle, but all other athletic facilities are conveniently located on campus. Greek life is not central to the social scene. Fraternities have houses but sororities do not. It should be no surprise that the outdoors club is the largest club on campus. Many students ski, snowboard, hike, bike and camp in the nearby Colorado Rockies. There are deep discount lift tickets available to students.
Before hitting the road, I grabbed a bite to eat in the dining hall. Even though it was during the four-day break between blocks, the dining hall was filled with students and faculty. I quickly learned why. The food was excellent and the choices were vast. There were plentiful vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, diary free and farm to table options. I spoke to several groups of students who hailed from the East Coast to West Coast. They told me that they chose CC because of the block plan, intimate size and outdoor opportunities. Students I saw did not fit a specific mold. Some students were artsy; others were athletic while still others were “snowboarder-types.”
Colorado College is test flexible. CC requires students to submit a qualitative test, qualitative test and a test of their choice for admissions. Students may choose to submit ACT, SAT, AP or SAT Subject Tests to fulfill the standardized test requirement. Interviews are highly recommended and are offered on campus, off campus and through SKYPE. CC meets full-demonstrated need. Merit aid is awarded to the top 10%-15% of the incoming class.
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