Colorado College is a small liberal arts college of 2000 students tucked away in Colorado Springs, CO. The view of Pikes Peak and the surrounding Rocky Mountains is breathtaking. Colorado Springs is a quiet city of 600,000 people. The downtown area is 6 blocks from campus. Colorado College is filled with such nice and friendly students and staff that it is obvious that there are good things going on at this lovely, intimate campus. Every person with whom I spoke seemed intelligent and helpful and eager to share his or her thoughts on the school. This good will hints at an all-over sentiment of contentment with and gratefulness to be at the school. The low humidity coupled with an average of 300 days of sunshine a year definitely contributes to the happy and laid back mood of the campus. Colorado College seems to be filled with serious students who are committed to learning yet who are collaborative in nature. There is no hint of hyper-competitiveness or a cutthroat hysteria. At Colorado College students learn for learning’s sake—otherwise there would be no reason for them to choose this unique college.
While online sources can be found that refer to Colorado College as a school characterized by lots of drinking and smoking, students on campus disagree with this assessment. The info session leader, who graduated in 2011, transferred from another liberal arts college because, at Colorado College, drinking and partying do not define the social opportunities. Several students confirmed that Colorado College has a wide-range of activities and that students of any social preference could be comfortable. There is also a new initiative on campus to offer more and more non-partying options for nightlife.
Students are required to live on campus for the first three years. The seniors who move off campus usually remain very close to campus. All freshmen live in one of three freshmen only dorms. There are themed living learning communities available to all students, including freshmen. There are substance-free halls as well.
Academically Colorado College is unique. The courses are all arranged on what is called a Block Schedule. Similar to what is found at many colleges and universities, 4 classes/semester are the norm. However, at Colorado College each class lasts exactly 3 ½ weeks, and students take only one class at a time. There are 4 blocks (3 ½ weeks each) during each semester. Every class meets from 9am until noon 5 days a week. The classes are fast paced and intensive. Each block allows students to become immersed in the class in which she is currently enrolled. Science classes often have labs that meet in the afternoon in addition to the class time in the morning. Because of the afternoon labs and also because of the rigorous nature of science classes that are taught in this intense fashion, the science majors are said to be the most difficult at Colorado College. Adjuncts are classes or lessons or special interest offerings that take place in the afternoons. One half a credit can be earned for each adjunct. The students at Colorado College thrive with the block schedule. It is not for the academically meek or hesitant. The classes start with a bang. They say that missing a day is like missing a week at a traditional school. If a student gets sick and has to miss a significant number of days, it is not uncommon for him to drop the class. Because Colorado College is so unusual and demanding in its academics, intellectually interested students self-select the school. The community is filled with genuine learners. Lazier students shy away. The rigorous schedule also promotes collaboration and a sense of community. The average class size is 14. Classes are currently capped at 25 (32 with two professors), but soon the school is changing this cap to 17 (25 with two professors). It is not uncommon for professors to invite students over for dinner at their houses. There is a program ,called “Breaking Bread,” that supports professors who invite students to their homes. Professors are involved in students’ learning to an uncommon and enviable degree. Professors only teach one block at a time so that they have ample time to give to each student in the class. The blocks’ structure creates a great opportunity for visiting professors to come in and teach a class- since it’s a 3 ½ week commitment and not a semester commitment. Also because students take only one class at a time, it’s easy for classes to take field trips outside of Colorado Springs without interrupting a student’s other classes.
Colorado College takes a lot of pride in its Quantitative Reasoning and Writing Centers — both of which are set up to provide academic support to students until midnight every night. Freshmen thrive in the FYE, (First Year Experience,) Program. The FYE is like a block schedule “boot camp.” The first two blocks are all freshman classes and are taught by professors who are experienced in introducing new students to the system at CC. The classes are writing intensive and demanding. Students love forming very close friendships during their FYE blocks.
Research is encouraged in many disciplines. Professors mentor research during the blocks in which they are not teaching. Most students study abroad during their time at Colorado College. Some Colorado blocks are taught abroad and last the 3 ½ weeks. Some students go abroad for the entire semester. Colorado College owns a few of its own study abroad programs, but for the most part, students go on programs administered and taught by other institutions.
In terms of biology, Colorado College has a focus on ecology, environmental science, and field biology as opposed to medical, molecular or cell biology—which is what a pre-med student might be more interested in. Most of the professors’ main areas of interests include animals and plants. While some of the research is on a histo-chemical or molecular level, the emphasis does not seem to be as much on medical research as it is on environmental things like plant ecosystems and frogs in ponds etc. The research seems to be mainly conducted in 3 ½ week blocks as a class that is available to students after having taken 3 credits of biology. While this limited research is better than none, CC is not set up to support all biology students researching in a progressive lab for months at a time. No real research can ever be completed in 3 ½ weeks. CC does encourage students to participate in research in the summer. The website says that “occasionally” there are research positions available to students to help a professor in a lab, but it implies that this is not something readily available to all students. The biochemistry and neuroscience departments also have research opportunities for lab research, however they must be sought out. There is adequate research for students to get into medical school, but not so much for a student who really desires to get a taste of cutting edge medical research. Students from CC are successful getting into medical school. They just aren’t in a medical school/research environment during their undergraduate years. The science curriculum is rigorous and well respected. In the 2009-2010-application year, 35 CC students applied to medical school and 73% were admitted—7 to DO schools, the rest to MD schools. My own doctor went to CC. Perhaps the liberal arts curriculum made him more holistic and caring. I really like him, and he’s tops medically!
Colorado College meets the full demonstrated need of its students, as determined by the FAFSA and CSS PROFILE. They are need aware in admissions. Financial Aid at Colorado College is innovative in that they have a commitment to providing the financial aid amount offered at admission for the whole four years of college. Also they transfer financial aid awards to study abroad programs so that all students will have the chance to study abroad.
Colorado College has recently adopted a flexible testing policy in admissions. In addition to the SATs and ACTs students have a long list of testing options that can be submitted for admission. Interviews by admissions representatives, on campus or off, are recommended but not required. However, any Denver student who wishes to attend is expected to visit campus or they will be seen as a poor yield risk.
Colorado College is unique in it academics, and the student body reflects this. Colorado College is a notably happy and welcoming campus.
21% of males and 24% of females of applicants were admitted for the fall 2012 year.
Mid-range scores. CC is becoming very test-flexible.
SAT r 630-720
SAT m 630-700
SAT w 620-710
72% of enrolled students for the class of 2016 were in the top 10% of their high school classes, and a full 26% were in the top 1%. 94% were in the top 25%.
Cost of Attendance of the 2013-2014 year: $57,400
Colorado College offers merit awards to the top 7.3% of incoming freshman. The average award is about $10,400/year
84.5% of students get their full need met. The average amount of need met is 97%.