Colorado College, A Selective Liberal Arts College On Blocks
Colorado College, like Cornell College, uses a block plan schedule. However, Colorado College has about twice the number of students (just over 2,000), is less isolated, but far more selective. Located in Colorado Springs, this school is 40 minutes from Denver. One can easily imagine that a small college with a beautiful campus in a picturesque setting would be tough to get into, and Colorado College is. This year I could only take a virtual visit. The college has several YouTubes to help you take your own, and get acquainted with the academics, campus and community. Current students even made one about the things they have missed most during our COVID reality.
Colorado College celebrated 50 years of experience with the Block Plan in 2019. It’s fair to say that the faculty and administration have proven out this academic model. I also spoke with Karen Kristof, Assistant Vice President, Dean of Admissions at the college to learn more, and hope that you will listen in.
The college accepted just under 14 percent of the students who applied to join last year’s freshman class. But among those who applied Early Decision, 27 percent got in. Colorado College is test optional, and will probably be more understanding about testing during our COVID reality. However, when test scores were submitted, the middle 50 percent was between 1300 and 1460 on the SAT, and between 29 and 33 on the ACT. You can also apply Early Action or Regular Decision, but the acceptance rates are quite low. The college put up a nice sequence of YouTubes to help you through the admissions process.
If you fall in love with this school after an in-person or virtual visit, don’t be afraid to apply Early Decision. But take the essays and interview seriously.
Fifty-nine percent of the class that arrived last year were accepted through Early Decision. Colorado College not only meets 100 percent of demonstrated need; the average freshman need-based scholarship was over $53,000 in 2018-19. Merit aid is also available, and Colorado residents will pay no more than they would pay to go to the flagship state university. Colorado College had an endowment of $767 million at the end of FY 2019. That’s quite large for a small school, according to the National Association of College and University Business Officers. Graduates in the Class of 2019 owned, on average, just over $24,000 in Federal student loans. That’s $3,000 less than the maximum they could have borrowed to pay for their degree. Two-thirds of the Class of 2019 graduated with no debt at all.
If you get into Colorado College, the school definitely tries to help you stay. This school retained at least 94 percent of each freshman class that has entered since 2010. Eighty percent of every class that entered from 2008 to 2016 finished on time.
Everyone takes their block class from 9:00 to noon, five days each week. That makes it easy to plan the rest of your day at school around your class, part-time work, recreation or extracurricular activities. I have already covered some pluses of a block plan in my previous post about Cornell College. In case you have not read that post, I will repeat them here.
- It’s a great way for undecided students to decide on a major, after they have taken the first year seminar. You take the introductory courses in the prospective majors over your first two or three blocks. Then you use later blocks to take the courses required for your major, and your degree.
- Even the classes that might pose the most difficulty are small. Classes taught by a single faculty member are limited to 16 students.
- The plan works well for majors in Economics, Mathematics and the sciences. The knowledge learned in the earlier courses helps you to succeed in the most advanced ones, as long as you get a good teacher in the intro, aka “gatekeeper” classes that may weed out students at other schools. Colorado College students gave their faculty a rating of 3.96 (out of a possible 5.0) on RateMyProfessors.com. Few schools get a rating this high.
- It will help students who are serious about the health professions. Instead of juggling two or more courses with labs and classroom instruction, trying to maintain excellence, you have to worry about maintaining excellence in only one.
- There are multiple opportunities to study abroad through the blocks. But you will need to cover the transportation each time you want to make the trip. However, Colorado College also partners with schools that let you take all of the blocks abroad over a full semester, and help you with the accommodations. Then you will have only one airfare to worry about.
- All on-campus classes end at the same time, making it easier for coaches to schedule practices for varsity athletes.
In addition, like Cornell College, everyone lives on campus, unless their block takes them elsewhere. But unlike Cornell, Colorado College has no Greek life. Blocks force students to socialize with classmates, but there is also plenty to do outdoors and off campus, whether you go downtown or into the mountains. Listen to my interview with Karen Kristof to learn more !
I checked out the demographics of the Colorado College alumni base that is registered in LinkedIn.com. Among the 21,000 alumni, nearly 6,100 have stuck around Denver and Colorado Springs. But this school also has 1,300 alumni in and around San Francisco and a near-equal number in the New York area. There are also over 500 alumni in each of these metros: Seattle, Los Angeles, Boston, Washington DC, Chicago and Portland. These are nice sized communities for a small school. The college is also a member of the Liberal Arts Career Network and the Associated Colleges of the Midwest.
I realize that I have only had a virtual experience with Colorado College. But if I wanted to aim for admission to an exceptionally selective liberal arts college, this would be one of my first choices. My decision would come down to whether the block plan would work for me, and whether I could handle the snowfall I’m likely to see every winter in Colorado Springs. You might see over 240 days of sunshine in this town, but there’s also a lot more snow than I’m used to seeing in New Jersey.
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Listen to my talk, College Is A Learning AND Living Community, hosted by Dr. Cynthia Colon from Destination YOUniversity on Voice of America Radio!
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