Road Trip: "Aha!" Moments at Colorado College

I confess to knowing close to nothing about Colorado College prior to my visit; the whole trip was a series of Aha! Moments. Hands down, the biggest and most impactful moment is that Aha! Colorado College is one of less than a handful of colleges that follow a block plan. No doubt that distinction is what gives Colorado College its US News rankings—#2 most innovative, #13 best undergraduate teaching, and #24 among National Liberal Arts colleges. What’s a block plan?

Simply stated a under the block plan students take one class at a time for an intensive three and a half weeks with four and a half day block breaks between each block period.  Classes are daily from 9am to noon with labs in the afternoon.  Class sizes average sixteen and are capped at twenty-five. Roughly 20-30 blocks per year travel off campus for a day, a week or for a full block term... international destinations included. Everyone goes to lunch together. Faculty and staff are encouraged through the Breaking Bread program to open their homes to host informal events for their blocks. Not surprisingly, close relationships form with professors and peers—“It feels like much more than an institution…It feels like a family. ” If you tend to procrastinate, the block plan will cure you of the habit. 

If it sounds intriguing, you can try out the block plan over a Pre-college summer session, whichI encourage because the average 16% acceptance rate breaks down to a substantial benefit to early admit applications.  Early Decision (I and II combined) has an acceptance rate of 31.4%.  Even Early Action has a favorable 17.4% rate compared with Regular Decision with a 6.2% acceptance rate.  If the block schedule and Colorado sound attractive, use the Pre-college session to give you the experience you need in order to decide whether to apply early.  When you do apply, realize that Colorado College has flexible testing requirements.  You can submit three of any combination of SAT, ACT, Subject Test, AP, IB and for foreign students, TOEFL.  Your submission from these tests must include one quantitative test, one verbal (qualitative) test and one of your choice.

Colorado College lies at the base of Pike’s Peak in Colorado Springs, the second largest city in CO with a population of 674,000.  With 300 sunny days a year at an elevation of 6,035 feet it is the stunning out of doors home environment. But, Aha! Colorado College and Colorado Springs have a less than perfect relationship given the college is quite liberal (they elected an Iranian woman as their first queer student body president last year) while the town’s people tend to be military, older, and conservative.  Students are required to live on campus for three years in various dorm styles and their senior year roughly half of the students move off campus—though a stone’s throw away from campus.

If you choose Colorado College it is more than the out of doors—the academic offerings are substantial with forty-four majors and thirty-four thematic minors (in addition to the majors as minors). It also has pre-professional tracks in business, law, medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine, physical therapy, and a 3+2-engineering program, which tend to be unusual for a liberal arts college. Approximately 80% of students study off campus either through faculty led blocks or a semester or year abroad.  Nearly 150 students (about 7%) apply for and are granted ~$1,000 Venture Grants to conduct individual research with a faculty sponsor.  About 68% complete internships.  And, like most liberal arts colleges, a high percentage of students go on to graduate school.  For Colorado College that percentage is 71% within five years.

Consider Colorado College if you are curious, ready to embrace a different yet serious and challenging approach to learning, and love the mountains and an outdoors active lifestyle.