Colorado Visit

With 300 days of sunshine, crisp clean air and the Rockies in the background, Denver is a great place to think of going to college. I recently attended the annual NACAC (National Association of College Admission Counseling) Conference in Denver at the beautiful Colorado Convention Center, and had the opportunity to tour five of the local colleges, offering many different educational options to our East Coast students!


My first stop was the gorgeous University of Colorado at Boulder which is 30 miles from Denver. The 600-acre pedestrian-friendly campus supports 24,757 undergrads, 5,127 graduate students, 11,000 bikes and countless skateboards, a very active campus! The beautiful red sandstone buildings and red slate roofs house many special programs including their College of Engineering and Applied Sciences that has produced 18 astronauts. The University also has well-known Programs in Environmental Design as well as the Leeds School of Business. Colorado Boulder is also known to have the second largest contingent of undergrads abroad of any college in the US with 330 programs in 70 countries. Called the “College with a Conscience,” over half of the undergraduate population does community service. School spirit abounds among the “Buffaloes” with their ever popular mascot, “Ralphie.” A chosen few actually try out to be her handlers during the CU-Boulder football games! Yes, Ralphie is a female.


The University of Denver was abuzz with excitement at hosting the 1st Presidential 2012 Debate while we were visiting and we got to see the actual venue days later. They transformed their beautiful ice rink in the brand-new Ritchie Athletic Center to accommodate the Presidential candidates, and what a great facility it is! The University is in the Cherry Creek suburb of Denver and their motto is to “wake up in a place others dream about.” With 5,061 undergrads and 6,301 grads, Denver is in an enviable position where all their professors teach both undergrads and graduate students, a bit unusual. Denver impressed me as a place where community service and dedication to the common good has a tangible presence, and students really make things happen. Every first-year student works with a faculty mentor, 65-70% complete internships, over 200 students participate in undergraduate research each year, and the Freshman Retention Rate is 88%. The Learning Effectiveness Program (LEP), a comprehensive, fee-based program for students with learning disabilities, has been around for 30 years and is a model for many other schools.


Regis University is told that their three-pronged claim to fame includes 1) their Denver location, 2) they’re a Jesuit institution and 3) their size, a little over 2500 students. They have a School of Nursing, Pharmacy and Physical Therapy, Education and Counseling, and Management. So there are many real world studies for the student who is looking towards the future. The campus is an arboretum, quite beautiful, and the student body nurturing and kind. Regis’ new President, John Fitzgibbons, just recently came from Marquette University and seems to have a lot of energy. Their chapel is gorgeous and was designed with the beauty of the Rockies in mind.


Next, we were off to Colorado Springs and the United States Air Force Academy. Our briefing began at 0800 so we knew we were on a military base, and we had to be prompt. Many of the same requirements exist for the Air Force as for the other “academies” but here the setting at the base of the Rockies made it unique with the buttressed chapel soaring to the sky! It was clear these “officers of character” needed lots of math and science to be ready academically for the academy. In addition, they needed to be medically and physically qualified. Candidates for admission need an official nomination to be eligible to compete for the appointment. Under no circumstance, would drugs, lying or untrustworthy behavior be tolerated EVER! It also seemed as if the Summer Seminar was very important. But the Air Force Academy is not for everyone…..just for a few good men and women. Unfortunately, we were unable to see all 4,000 of the cadets eat at the same time which I was really looking forward to!


Also located in Colorado Springs is Colorado College, one of a handful of colleges in the country with a “block schedule.” At Colorado College, students take one 3 and a half week long course at a time, with 25 students in a class. Classes are held in the morning, and labs are held in the afternoon. At the end of the 3 and a half weeks, exams are given, and papers are due, and the class is over. There is a 4 and a half day break, and then a completely new class begins. By the end of the first “semester,” a student will have taken as many courses as a traditional student would have taken if they had taken four altogether. However, this gives the class the opportunity to travel away for a day or two, go overseas for a week, or do projects. For example, a Coral Reef Biology Class goes to Belize for an entire block!
A Southwestern Course travels to the Grand Canyon. No one misses class because it moves very fast and everyone needs to participate. The campus is gorgeous and the town of Colorado Springs is quaint and lovely, and a lot of kids love the outdoors. Colorado Springs is also the home of the U.S. Olympic Training Committee so there are lots of internships available. I love their supplemental essay “Design Your Own Three and A Half Week Intellectual Adventure?” If you like being really involved in your learning, and want it to be fast-paced, you will be intrigued by the block schedule at Colorado College.