campus encounters

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Archive for the category “Colorado”

Regis University

REGIS UNIVERSITY (visited 10/4/12)

Regis chapel


Regis is primarily an undergraduate institution of 2400 students on 100 acres within the city of Denver, a “Destination Location.” However, they do have a graduate population and have a beautiful new graduate building meant to centralize their grad programs. The campus is listed as a National Arboretum, so they get funding for trees on campus, and they take this seriously. As a Jesuit institution, they live by the “Men and Women in Service of Others” motto. Last year, students completed 18,000 hours of community service.


One of the main buildings on campus.

Students have a lot of activities to choose from on campus. Thursday Thrill is a big deal; the Student Activities Board plans something special every week ranging from hypnotists, comedians, Zombie Crawls on Halloween, and “Tailgating” involving zip-lines, cookouts, and watching whatever game is on campus that night. Regis is a DII school and participates in the Rocky Mountain Conference. They have an active fan club named the Raucous Rangers. For people not wanting to play varsity sports, there are lots of club and intramural teams; Lacrosse and Rugby are club sports and competitive. Cars are allowed on campus, but rarely needed; being so centrally located in Denver has its advantages, and students can ride the city buses and Light-Rail system for free with their student IDs.

The Coors Center (you can tell you’re in Colorado!) is dedicated to growth outside the classroom. The health center, career center, fitness center, and tutoring are all located in the building in there. The career center is available to alum as well. Once a Ranger, always a Ranger. The writing center has specialized writing tutors so it doesn’t matter if you need help in a lit class or writing up a science lab.

Approximately 40% of the students are Catholic. A big, beautiful new chapel has recently been built on campus; both Catholic masses and interfaith services are held in there. Students are not required to attend any sort of religious service, but they must take a World Religions class (a survey class), and one Christianity course at the 300 level: there are 10 to choose from.

Regis 3The sciences get rave reviews from students, particularly biology, nursing, and pharmacy programs. Regis offers a 2+4 Pharmacy program; students spend two years in in the undergrad, pre-pharmacy program and then apply to be admitted into the Doctoral program which takes an additional two years. The science building is specialized by hall so bio is on one floor, chem is on one floor, math and physics on one floor. Classrooms, labs, and offices are all together which the students said contributed to getting a cohesive experience. However, sciences are not the only departments that are strong; business has a good comprehensive program, and communications is great; they even have their own radio station on campus.

The school only has one big lecture hall which is rarely used for classes because there just aren’t any classes that big. Instead, it’s used for more special events such as guest lecturers. Our tour guide had class sizes ranging from 12-60; his favorite class was a neuroscience class in which they got to do surgery on a rat brain.

The school has a two-year residency requirement; about 50% of Juniors and Seniors stay on campus. The tour guide was off campus and paid about $400 in rent in a 4-bedroom house which was a 4-minute walk off campus. Freshmen usually live in traditional dorms, but there are suites and townhouses available, mostly used by upperclassmen. There are kitchens in dorms complete with utensils, pots, etc that students can check out to use so they don’t have to bring their own. The dining hall is good, and students tend not to complain about the food. Our tour guide says that he rarely needs to wait more than five minutes for food, even during busy meal times.


One of many chairs with reading lights available in the library.

There are a lot of nice “extras” on campus that make it feel like home. The library had really cool comfy chair cubicles with individual reading lights for students. There’s a pub on campus available to students 21 and over. The table tops are basically chalk-boards, and there are large pieces of chalk on the tables so they can write on the tables. The “three frees” on campus are parking, laundry, and printing.

(c) 2012

University of Denver

UNIVERSITY OF DENVER (visited 10/4/12)

DU~DU 7Before arriving on campus, I had never heard of a Green Ambulance, aka one that is Solar Powered. It was developed at DU (yes, they call themselves DU, not the other way around. We couldn’t find someone to tell us why) and now serves the campus community. People probably don’t think of DU as a college that’s developing new things, but a surprising amount of interesting stuff is being done here. However, after learning about the types of students they are attracting to campus, it wasn’t so surprising after all. DU is committed to drawing students who will actively engage in opportunities and will think outside the box. In the application and in the optional interviews (which can be done with any of a number people – faculty, staff, alumni), they look for evidence that students are motivated to learn, that they’re concerned about honesty and integrity, and are open to difference and new ideas.

The light-rail stop on campus

The light-rail stop on campus

DU debateI visited the University of Denver right after the first Presidential Debate, and there was clearly still a lot of residual energy surrounding that. We took the light-rail from downtown to the stop directly across the street from campus (students get to ride for free with their Student ID). This beautiful campus is located in a residential area of the city called (appropriately) University Place. There are malls nearby, and the first Chipotle ever opened is located only a couple blocks away. Downtown is seven miles away; a major technology corridor is six miles south (also on the light-rail line). Students use both areas for internships. Beyond that, students have access to all that this part of Colorado has to offer, including six ski areas within 90 miles.

~DU 6Denver is a medium sized school with just over 5,000 undergraduates, but they also have a sizable graduate population which includes their law school and PhD students. Less than 40% of the undergrad population is from Colorado; they draw students from every state and 61 countries with almost 10% of the population coming from abroad. The city of Denver is a major draw for people coming from out-of-state. It’s a major metropolitan area (one of the very few in the country that has every major sports team!), an amusement park within the city limits, and more – but also has the additional appeal of being so close to several smaller cities (Boulder, Colorado Springs, etc) as well as the Rockies and other outdoor opportunities.

~DU seatingDenver runs on the quarter system with three 10-week sessions and an optional 4th summer session. Because of this, students have a 6-week winter break from Thanksgiving to beginning of January which students find helpful if they want to get seasonal employment. Students complete a Common Curriculum comprised of a series of writing classes, arts and humanities, and social and natural sciences.

Denver has 13 schools with more than 100 areas of study including interdisciplinary and pre-professional programs. More unusual DU4majors include: Rhetoric and Professional Writing, Animation and Game Development, Real Estate and Construction Management, Astrophysics, and Cognitive Neuroscience. They have a full Music school, and the opera program is reportedly excellent. Students not majoring in music still have access to many classes in that school, but students must audition in order to major in music, and can only apply under the Regular Decision deadline. The Art school requires a portfolio, and Theater students who want scholarships must audition. Students interested in Business don’t apply to Daniels until freshman year for entrance into the school during the fall quarter of sophomore year; they are interviewed and submit a resume as part of the process. Special degree programs include 3+2 and 4+1 in Business, Education, and Social Work (in which students can study something different as undergrad), and in Art History, GIS, international studies, public policy, and engineering (in which students must major in that field as an undergraduate).

~DU gardenDenver prides itself on active, not passive, learning with average class sizes of 21. Our tour guide’s smallest and biggest classes have DU2been 17 and 120. Ninety-five percent of classes have fewer than 50 students; 82%% have fewer than 30. Every first-year student works with a faculty mentor. The five-year average retention rate is 88% (freshman to sophomore year). Professors teach 99.8% of the classes and are known for cutting edge contribution to research. Ninety percent of the full-time faculty hold the highest degree in their field and/or are active in their field such as the music professor playing in the symphony or the business professor who owns her own business. Sixty-five to seventy percent of students complete at least one internship before graduation. Over 200 students participate in research with faculty each year, and the school helps to pair up students with professors; students regularly publish and present their findings. About 1,250 students participate in 80 service-courses each year. DU is on the US President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll because of the amount of service they provide in the wider Denver area. They also want students to study abroad and have started the Cherrington Global Scholars program: If students have a 3.0 GPA, they can study abroad and not pay any more than they’d pay at DU. About 70% of students participate before graduation.

DU requires that students live on campus for the first two years; 95% of first-year students live on campus (the rest living with family inDU3 town). Dorms are comfortable and modern with cable, a micro-fridge, wireless, and other amenities coming standard. As is becoming more popular on campuses across the country, they have several Living Learning Communities available to First Year students who can choose from themes such as Creativity and Entrepreneurship, Environmental Sustainability, International, Social Justice, and Wellness. DU also provides Integrated Learning Programs which span all 4 years, the Honors Program, and the Pioneer Leadership Program. Students can minor in Leadership Studies which is becoming increasingly more popular.

~DU 11The Early Action and the Regular Decisions rounds are equally competitive. Applicants can use either the Common App or the Pioneer App (specific to DU). They take either the SAT or the ACT w/o writing, and they will SuperScore both tests. They require a counselor recommendation; additional letters are optional. AP scores, if available, can help the students (but to get credit, the student must have earned a 4 or 5 on the exam). Qualifications for scholarships and for the Honors program are evaluated during application process. Those being offered a spot in the Honors program usually have just under a 4.0 GPA and about a 32 ACT or the SAT equivalent. University scholarships can carry over to the 5th year.

~DU chapelCampus has lots of activities to participate in or to watch. DU has 17 DI athletic teams; the college has earned 28 team and 109 individual champions, 308 All-Americans, and 57 Olympians. Non-athletes actively support the teams; hockey is the most attended event. The Alpine Club is particularly popular. Its goal is to get people outdoors, so they have equipment for student use, offer rides, and get discounts at local places. Homecoming, Winter Carnival, and May Days are particularly popular traditions which draw large crowds.

(c) 2012

Misc. Colorado Colleges

Overview of Colorado Colleges and Universities not visited

I attended a breakfast hosted by a group of Colorado Universities and Colleges. They each only had a few minutes to present information about their individual institution; what follows is a summary of what they had to say.


Adams is one of the most diverse in the state; with so many Hispanic students, it has officially been labeled as Hispanic-Serving. They also have a lot of first-gen students. The school, located about 3.5 hours southwest of Denver and 2 hours north of Santa Fe, is definitely off the beaten path. The popular majors are business, human performance/exercise science, psych, and bio/pre-med. Their sports are DII with 10 men’s and 9 women’s teams and are launching baseball this year. They’re known for running: they placed 2nd at the Stanford Invitational, almost beating Stanford. They offer a lot of admission-based merit scholarships.


This medium-sized public university with just over 9,000 students is located in Grand Junction. With almost 150,000 people, this is largest city between Denver and Salt Lake City. They’ve recently invested $300 million into the infrastructure. Almost everything is new or renovated. The students they are looking for have an “adventurous spirit” who are willing and able to create own excitement. There’s a lot to do on campus but much of it is student run, so they want students who will be part of creating – and participating in – activities. They want those people who will enjoy what’s around. They have 23 DII teams which means that there is some scholarship money on that front as well as merit-based academic awards for students.


This is primarily a 2-year Community College, but they started offering BA degrees in 2011. This is a multi-campus college serving 9 counties in North-Central Colorado. Three of their campuses are residential including at Steamboat Springs. Because they have some dorms available, they do pull in some out-of-state students and provide scholarships to help draw these students in. They actually have 46 states represented on their campuses. Students come because of their highly ranked programs such as Resort Management, Vet Tech (they have a working farm), and a new media program. There’s a full range of student support services for students who need them.


This college is focused on very specific majors, but offers more than just Mining. They have several schools within the university: Applied Science and Math, Engineering, Geoscience and Resource Management, and even Humanities and Social Sciences (with majors like Economics, International Political Economy, and Public Affairs). Minors include unusual areas such as humanitarian engineering and explosives. Student life is active with typical sorts of clubs; 13 DII sports and Greek Life is also offered to students.


Located in Durango, CO (the four corners region), this is “Colorado’s Public Liberal Arts Institution.” Their graduates have the lowest level of indebtedness in the state upon graduation. Due to its location in the Four Corners Region of the state and high Native American population, they’re designated as a Native American Serving institution. About 35% of the population is from out-of-state, with many of those coming from surrounding states, but they do pull from all over. The college is looking for students with an adventurous spirit who are willing to take risks and stretch themselves. There are no graduate programs at FLC, and as such, the students have direct, “privileged” access to faculty. Only one percent of classes have more than 50 students. The education, psychology, biology, engineering, anthropology/archaeology, and the Native American Studies programs are both popular and strong. Among their DII athletics, cycling and soccer are big.


JWU has 4 campuses across the country, one of which is in Denver. Their focus is on hands-on career preparation and offer both BA/BS and AAS degrees in areas such as Business Management, Culinary Arts, Hospitality Services, and Technology. 1 OF 2 colleges that have a culinary degree that’s certified by the nutrition board.


Naropa was founded by a Buddhist monk and a couple poets in the 60s in order to merge Eastern and Western ideals. They currently enroll 400 undergrads, 65% of whom come from out-of-state; 10% are international. During the admission process, Naropa will not look at test scores; they’re more interested in essays and the interview. They look for students who are interested in dialogue so what the students have to say, verbally and in written form, are important parts of the process. Some of their more unusual majors are Contemplative Psychology, Peace Studies, Writing and Literature, and Traditional Eastern Arts.


One of the main buildings in the middle of campus.

One of the main buildings in the middle of the UCCS campus.

This beautiful campus built on a hillside overlooking Colorado Springs is the smallest of the three UC campuses. I had a chance to walk around the campus when I was in CS, but did not have a chance to take a formal tour. They offer a wide range of academic offerings in 7 colleges. Some of their more unique majors include Professional Golf Management (in the Business and Administration college), Game Design and Development, Computer Security (in the Innovation college), Medical Technology, and Sports Health and Wellness Nursing and Health Sciences college). Their engineering program is ranked ninth in the nation. Their DII sports are generally well-regarded; cross-country is ranked 6th nationally.


Set right in the heart of Denver, this campus is three campuses in one, so students have the benefit of a medical campus and Metropolitan State all in one spot. Light rail and bus lines go right through campus, connecting students to the entire metro area, and since they’re downtown, students can easily walk to many places. UCD enrolls 11000 undergrads and 5000 graduate students, with a large out-of-state population. UCD accepts WUE so residents of the 15 western states can take advantage of reduced tuition; they also offer “Denver-Bound” scholarship for out-of-state students. Successful applicants have an average of a 3.4 GPA and 1150 SAT or 24 ACT. Popular/strong majors include engineering, architecture, and urban planning. The classrooms were deliberately designed to be small and can’t hold more than 22 students.


WSCU is located in a mountain valley about 3.5 hours from Denver and about 30 minutes from Crested Butte ski area. Gunnison has an airport making it easy to travel to and from school. They offer both WUE and out-of-state scholarships. The Business and Education programs are reportedly the best on campus, and Land and Resource Management is perhaps the most unique. They have DII athletics with Cross-Country and wrestling being the strongest.

Colorado State University

COLORADO STATE UNIVERSITY, Ft. Collins (visited 10/3/12)


One of the large quads on campus.

This was not the clichéd large state university full of concrete and large, looming buildings. We arrived on campus next to a long tree-lined quad. Kids were playing Frisbee or lounging in the sun, and it looked more like a stereotypical small college quad – until we passed by a class of about 16 students sitting on the grass with notebooks and a professor writing on a portable white-board. That was a first for me; although I’ve seen classes meeting outside, those have usually been discussion groups rather than a teacher bothering to bring a white board. It was great to see.

CSU pondCSU started in 1870 as the land-grant institution for Colorado. It’s a major research university with a medium-sized school feel. About 12% of classes are taught by TAs, but those are almost all labs and recitation sessions.

The city of Fort Collins is a big draw for students: with a population of about 144,000 people, it’s diverse and active. They just admitted their largest freshman class – and have had four record years in a row. They expect that next year, there will be more out of-state applications than in-state apps. 200 miles of hiking and biking trails are accessible from campus, and (like other places in Colorado) it has about 300 days of sunshine each year. Students get outside and do a lot; for $40 a semester, they can use rent outdoor equipment from the student center for camping, kayaking, skiing, etc. Students get free city bus passes which run by campus all day. The city and the campus are both extremely safe; the biggest crime on campus is bike theft.

CSU2They’ve done quite a bit of building and renovation on campus. They’re looking to build an on-campus football stadium to replace the one that’s currently two miles off campus. One of the projects that they’re most proud of is the recently completed new engineering building. Students can complete a dual degree in biomed and engineering which is fairly unusual. Students do two separate majors rather than a single biomedical engineering degree. The Biomed Sciences major is the only one to which students must apply to directly. There are only 100 spots so people should apply early. Last year, they filled those spots by mid-December.

CSU dormsThere are six majors (including business, computer science, art, and engineering) which require applicants to have a higher GPA because the programs are more competitive. CSU’s business program is highly ranked, and students often take advantage of internships at places like Hewlitt Packard and other big-name companies in town. Engineering is strong, and the graduates of the program pass the national test at well above the national average. Pre-vet, health, and exercise sciences are very popular and well regarded. The university also has one of the top landscape architecture degrees in the country.


The Business Department building

CSU differentiates tuition: business and engineering have an additional tuition charge of $60/credit hour because of the increased costs associated with running those programs. They are a WUE school so students residing in one of the 15 Western states can receive this award; the WUE is considered a merit-based deduction and is renewable with a 3.0 GPA. There are also other scholarships available for students outside the WUE states, including an Honors Program scholarship. The Honors scholarship can be stacked with other merit awards, but other than that, students can only get one merit scholarship.

CSU chapel and hillAdmission to the Honors Program comes with the offer of admission to the university and is based on GPA and test scores. Students can also apply after the first year if they don’t get it coming into the school. There’s an Honors Living Learning Community. The tour guide loves the coursework because of the discussion. Other benefits include early class registration and smaller classes. Our tour guide’s smallest classes had 17 students (Honors) and 30 (non-Honors). The biggest class he took was Oceanography with 300 students. When asked if there’s a lot of need for Oceanography in Ft. Collins, CO, the tour guide laughed and said, “It’s really more theoretical.”


Another large open space between several academic buildings and their new athletic center.

The university is committed to helping students get comfortable on campus and to adjust to campus living. Thy run orientations throughout the summer, including one for students coming in from a distance; this happens directly before Ram Welcome (the fall orientation program) in August, so students only have to travel to campus once but still can take advantage of the extra orientation time. Freshmen are required to live on campus; the housing application is due by May 1 and costs $150; $100 of that goes towards the cost of housing. Off campus housing is close, cheap, and easy to find. The university has an off-campus housing office to assist students in finding places to live. Our tour guide said that he had no problem; he’s paying $375 for his bedroom in a three-bedroom house about a five-minute walk from campus. Even people who live off campus stay engaged in on-campus activities, leading to a vibrant campus environment. Only about 10% of the student body are members of fraternities or sororities, but Greek Life is active and many activities are open to any member of the community.

(c) 2012

University of Northern Colorado

UNIVERSITY OF NORTHERN COLORADO, Greeley (visited 10/3/12)

UNC 6Getting off the bus, another counselor turned to me and said, “Well, we’re in farm country.” There was definitely a faint odor of manure in the air (which luckily seemed to be localized to the area where we got off the bus). We asked the tour guide about that; he said that once a week, they can get that odor from a local plant, but it’s rarely strong or long-lasting. He’s a senior and only twice did he remember it being overwhelming.


University Center

The University Center is one of the best I’ve seen. In addition to the usual things like food kiosks and the bookstore, they also had a full hair salon, a bank branch, and several other services not usually seen in student centers. Their student ID, in addition to all the usual things it does on most campuses now (food, access to dorms), also acts as an ATM to Wells Fargo. The tour guide described the campus as being like a bowtie with the University Center as the knot in the middle of campus.

UNC dormSeveral academic programs merited special mention: the Business department has won awards, Nursing ranks in the top 5, and Musical Theater is also a top program. The tour-guide’s class sizes range from 12 (Sociology) to 125 (Public Speaking). He really likes the “mentor feel” in which students work shoulder-to-shoulder with teachers who work hard to create place where students can contribute. They help students shape and design research, publish in journals, and present at conferences. Students talked about feeling stretched and challenged; even though it was scary and they were pushed out of their comfort zone, they grew from being here.

UNC2Outdoors activities are big (not a surprise); the university has an agreement with a local ski resort; students pay $70 for three full days on the slopes that includes ski or snowboard rentals, full-day lift tickets, and rides to and from campus. There’s also a lot to do on campus, including a full Frisbee-Golf field. The yearly “Undie Run” that happens in the spring tends to be a favorite tradition; students will meet in the quad, strip down to their undies, and run across campus. The clothes they leave are donated to Goodwill or other charity organizations.


One of the newer residential units.

UNC 5UNC has 10,000 undergraduates but has the feel of a bigger school in terms of opportunities, activities, sports, off-campus options, etc. They have DI athletics which are highly participated in as well as supported by students in the stands. Club and intramural sports are also active. There are 10 fraternities and 10 sororities. Although the actual percentage of students involved in Greek life is relatively low, they do provide a lot of social activities open to the campus at large. Students said that they like the small, safe feel on campus. I asked the tour guide when the last time he knew of that the blue lights had been used, and he couldn’t think of a time. The campus is a bit sprawling but there are a lot of open spaces, and the quads were well used by the students. Even on a dreary day, people were outside. Our tour guide says that it can take 25 minutes to walk across campus, but that’s at a leisurely pace. Parking is fairly easy to find, but not necessarily close to where you need it. Everyone can have cars, and passes cost $255 a year. Most students will walk where they need to go in town; downtown is only 10 blocks away. They like having cars to get Ft. Collins (Colorado State Univ) which is only about 45 minutes away, or to go to Denver (a little over an hour).

UNC acad bldgThe admissions rep spoke very eloquently about making sure the students’ needs are met, even mentioning Maslow’s Needs Hierarchy. They are deliberate in designing campus and the buildings with this in mind, even to the extent that students can control their environment in the dorm rooms. “They come from a home where they’re used to being able to change the temperature; they should be able to do that here. If they aren’t comfortable, they can’t learn.”

(c) 2012

Colorado State University: Pueblo

CSU- Pueblo (Visited 10/2/12)

CSUP acad bldg 2A theme that seemed to run through many of the universities in Colorado is that students like to do things outdoors, and the institutions like to help them do this. Pueblo is no different. Their Outdoor Club is very active; for a $25 fee per year, students can “rent” – aka, borrow, any equipment they want, including snowboards and other things that would normally cost them quite a bit more.


A Communications building housing the PBS station.

Everything on campus is relatively quickly accessible. You can walk from one side to the other in about 10 minutes. Parking is not a problem, and freshman can bring cars on campus. Cars are more important for getting around off campus since nothing is really in easy walking distance. I liked the feel of campus; it had a lot of green space and was homey. Buildings, for the most part, were not the flashiest, but they have been updating and putting up new buildings, including a communications building that has state-of-the-art broadcasting facilities. The PBS station works out of there and pairs up with the college to give students hands-on radio experience.

CSUP patioThe campus felt relatively sedate. There weren’t a ton of kids out-and-about on campus, but it was during class time. However, it wasn’t as vibrant as a couple other campuses with students studying on quads, bustling between classes, etc. That could have been a timing issue since we were there mid-afternoon, not during meal-time or popular after-class time. The Student Center did have things going on, including students doing lip-syncing and making videos as part of Homecoming Week activities. The students we did see walking around were dressed fairly typically of college students, but I saw more students with brightly dyed hair than I think have at almost any other campus.


The new dorm complex

CSUP just built 3 new suite-style dorms in order to expand the housing options past the traditional hall-style dorms that are right next door. The new dorms are particularly nice, and each one has a different “extra” in it; for example, one has a bistro in that runs very much like a 7-11. Most of the campus is wireless except in the older dorm; the lounge is wireless but students need Ethernet cords in the rooms. One student said that one way he would improve the campus by improving the internet situation – make everything wireless and make it more reliable. Sometimes it cuts out during busy times.

CSUP psychStudents in the 15 participating western states can get WUE tuition at Pueblo which runs 150% of in-state tuition. Pueblo does not use the Common App, but their own application is actually quicker and easier than the CA. Students will also have to complete a separate application for scholarships which is available online. Admissions will not superscore either the SAT or ACT; they’ll take the highest single sitting score. However, they’ll use separate scores for placement. They do not need or look at writing.

CSUP3The business and the nursing programs both got high accolades from several sources. The Business department has about 800 students who have declared that as their major. They have a 3-2 BA/MBA program. If they meet the requirements, they can start their Masters during the senior year, and actually complete the program in 12 fewer credit hours, all for the undergraduate tuition rate. They also have a 3-2 program in biology, chemistry, and biochem. Nursing is their only real competitive major, getting about 150 applications for 60 spots. However, those who get in get a top-notch education, including access to three full simulation labs.

CSUP tv stationI asked one of the reps what he would tell a student from the east coast who maybe has never heard of Pueblo: one of the first things he said was that Colorado is affordable. The winter is fantastic: there’s lots of sun, not as much snow as people think, and it melts quickly. There is very little crime and virtually no traffic issues (at least outside of Denver!). In addition to the specific programs already mentioned, he said that CSUP has an early alert system based on GPA so if students are struggling, people will intervene quickly to help them. They look out for their students and really do want them to succeed.

Overall, the university receives very high satisfaction scores. I asked two different students what they would like to improve about the campus. They had to think about it a bit before answering. Other than the internet issue, they wanted some more food options (like Subway, Einstein Bagels, etc) and want better sidewalks (sometimes they end at weird places). I asked the students about the quiet feel to campus, and both like it – they said there was a lot to do but because there wasn’t a constant “party” atmosphere, they could get their work done, too.

(c) 2012

University of Colorado – Boulder

UC-Boulder (Visited 10/2/12)

CU1I can’t remember being on any other campus and thinking, “This place really smells good!” I had been excited about seeing Boulder because I had heard nothing about good things about the university and about Boulder itself, named the Smartest City in the US by Forbes magazine because so many companies are based here including the universities, Lockheed Martin, Celestial Seasonings, etc. Boulder is a great city by itself, but they’re also only 30 miles from Denver (a city of 2.5 million) for students have access to a major metropolitan area; go 30 miles in the other direction and you hit the Continental Divide (population – 0). You really get the best of both worlds.

CU stadium

CU Ralphie

Ralphie statue

Football is huge here. Students do have to pay for tickets which is a bit unusual, but maybe not so weird at bigger universities. A season pass costs $175 which the students I talked to thought was reasonable. Their mascot is Ralphie the Buffalo – a REAL Buffalo who weighs in a meager 3500 pounds. Ralphie, who is actually a female, runs the field before all home games. She lives somewhere near campus, but her actual location is top secret, known only to her handlers, the “Ralphie Runners” (who, in order to become a handler, must prove that they can run extremely fast because of Ralphie’s speed); apparently students from two rival schools had once kidnapped her and spray-painted her with their schools’ names. Now, to keep her safe (and clean!), they don’t release her location other than to those people who take care of her. A statue of Ralphie is in the plaza outside the stadium; the stipulation of the donation was that she faced east towards Nebraska, the big rival. However, now that they’ve changed divisions and don’t play Nebraska anymore, it doesn’t mean so much (although the tour guide said that now her butt is facing most of their opponents, so maybe that’s ok!).

P1000866Sports in general are popular (both for spectators and to participate in) and strong (with 24 NCAA championships). Boulder has been named the 2nd healthiest city in the US and there’s more protected open space around the city than in other areas. There are 11 ski areas within 3 hours of campus. 70 Olympic Athletes live or train in the area. If you want outdoorsy options, this is the place for you! The campus is bike and pedestrian friendly. All students can have cars, but it’s discouraged because parking is limited. Lots of students have bikes, and buses run frequently. Like other big schools I’ve been to, there are a lot of bikes and bike-racks around – and I even saw 2 “bike-fixing stations” that have all sorts of tools if something goes wrong. The sidewalks are separated into a pedestrian side and a bike side because there’s so much of each type of traffic and they try to minimize back-ups and accidents.

CSU quadEven though they are the University of Colorado, most people call the school CU. When I asked why, the tour guide thought maybe so they weren’t confused with UC Berkeley since both places are UCB. This is the flagship campus of the UC system; the creation of the university was written into the state charter when Colorado became a state in 1876. The campus is one of the most uniform in terms of looks that I’ve ever seen. The buildings are all done in the Tuscan style with stone from Colorado; we were told that it’s actually mandated that all new buildings conform to the new style. When I spoke to a student about CU, she said “it’s so . . . cement!” which surprised me because I thought it was beautiful – but she was commenting on the lack of open green space and quads. However, there are grassy areas to be found; it’s definitely a beautiful place.

On of the quads on campus

On of the quads on campus

CU acad bldgThe kids walking around campus were mostly casually dressed but not in the “crunchy,” outdoorsy style that Boulder seems to have gotten a reputation for; a few were dressed up in dresses and fancy shoes. Very few students were plugged into iPods as they walked around campus which was good to see – they were interacting with each other. There’s a great deal of diversity in the student body. Racially, this was easy to see walking around, but they also have religious, socio-economic, and geographic diversity. Students come from all 50 states. This year, there are 2400 out-of-state freshman compared to the 3100 in-state. Surprisingly, only 4% of the population is international; I expected a bit more. Also surprisingly, the population is 54% male, unlike the trend found at many other universities. OOS tuition is locked in at the first year rate (to attract OOS students). In-state students see tuition increases every year, but it’s still cheaper than OOS tuition. There is a way for OOS students to gain independent status and therefor CO residency for tuition purposes, but the tour guide wasn’t sure how that happened.

CU2CU coffee signAcademics seem to be uniformly strong. Journalism and Mass communication merited specific mentions: students can get involved in advertising, broadcast news, production, and more. The business program (which attracts 12% of the students on campus) is ranked #36 in USNWR. 12% of the student body has declared a business major; they can concentrate in accounting, finance, management and entrepreneurship, marketing, and an open option. The Engineering and Applied Science department ranks is the 19th in the country. The aerospace program is #1 and is partially funded by the government. Two NASA astronauts teach in the department. The biology department has a cadaver lab in which undergraduates can take classes. The music program only has 250 students. Environmental Design allows students to do architecture, design, landscape, and more.

This is the first time that I saw students with “clickers” – small white plastic rectangles about an inch wide and about four inches long with five buttons labeled A- E. Many professors have students “log in” for attendance purposes in some of the bigger classes. We saw two lecture halls that actually had balconies that looked a bit like box seats at a theater. Professors can also have the students answer questions during lectures in order to check for understanding. It was supposedly developed by one of the physics professors on campus.

CU bikes 2There is more going on extra-curricularly than people know what to do with. Thirteen percent of the population is Greek, and Greek Life provides a lot of social activities on campus for members and non-members alike. The campus has the only ice rink and the only bowling alley in Boulder. There are hundreds of clubs, and if a student wants to start one that isn’t offered already, he or she can do so with $25 and three friends. Volunteering and community service is HUGE here. CU is one of three colleges that won “College with a Conscience” last year because of the number of community service hours completed by the students.

CU 4The dining hall is great. In the dining hall we ate lunch in, there were food stations from 8 different countries as well as a kosher station. One of the admissions people said that “ We’ve moved up from the Freshman 15 to Freshman 35.”

CU has an impressive 89% retention rate from first to second year. They attribute this in part to the 19 Residential Academic Programs and Living-Learning Communities. Many residential halls have classes attached to them. Two classes each semester are taught in these classes in small group settings. Study abroad is also big: 26% students study abroad for a year, a semester, or a 3-week summer program. They have 330 programs in 70 countries.

(c) 2012

Colorado College

Colorado College (visited 10/1/12)

CC green spaceColorado College is one of the few colleges in the country on the block schedule: students take one class at a time, 3 hours a day for 18 days, and then have “block break” (Wednesday afternoon through the weekend); when they come back, they start a new class. Professors also only teach one class per block so they are also fully invested in the class and the students. The best thing about this is that there is so much flexibility in how the class meets: if they want to meet in the afternoon instead of the morning, they can; if they want to take a day-long (or a week-long) field trip, they can just go! The geology class, which is apparently hugely popular, goes to New Mexico for a week for field-work. A sociology class about deviation in society goes to a prison for a day. They also have classes that go places for all three weeks like a theater class in London or the “Yachtyssey” which studies Homer’s Odyssey from aboard a yacht, going to many of the places mentioned in the literature.


A class session on the quad

Students usually take eight block classes a year – four during the length of a traditional semester at another school. This gives some flexibility to students who may want to study abroad for a semester or year; they can go away to get a different experience and come back to pick up at the start of the next block at CC. Classes are small – generally in the teens, but all are capped at 25 unless the class is team-taught by a couple professors. Even then, the class size doesn’t double; it’s capped in the high 30s. On the other end of the spectrum, classes won’t get canceled even if only one student signs up.

CC flagpoleCC sukkahTheir required classes are meant to give students critical thinking and global awareness: students take two classes each in West in Time, a college level language (even if they come in with proficiency in language), and Scientific Investigations, and one each in Social Inequality, Global Culture, and Quantitative Reasoning. Several classes can count for two areas, but they will not excuse students from the language requirement since they want students to have their classes which not only include language instruction, but discussions about culture and other topics related to the language.

CC 2One of the traditions that my tour guide talked about was “First Monday.” On the first Monday of every new block, students are invited to a presentation held in the non-denominational chapel (one of the largest gathering spaces on campus). CC brings in big name people; Margaret Atwood (author) was in recently, as was Ralph Nader. Students tend to come in fairly large numbers to these events and others. The typical students are socially aware, intellectually curious, and want to give back to the world. There is an organic farm and a student-run soup kitchen on campus.

CC chapelSeveral years ago, Discover Magazine published a list of Top 50 Women in Science. Three of them were CC grads; only MIT had more – with four. Not too bad for a small liberal arts school! They do a lot to attract good students up front, especially in the sciences: They offer 4 Barnes Scholarship in Natural Sciences which grants a full-tuition scholarship to the winners – 2 in Bio and bio-chem, and 2 in the other sciences. The nice thing is that the winners are chosen by the faculty. They also have a lot more to brag about, including that they are the only nationally ranked Liberal Arts college in the time zone.

CC quadI didn’t realize that CC was so competitive: overall, they accept about 23% of applicants. They accept a little over a third of Early Decision applications, a little under a third of those applying for Early Action, and only about 15% of those in the Regular Decision pool. Because they do try to meet full need of their students, they require that the CSS/PROFILE get submitted with the application. They will superscore both the ACT and the SAT, and because they know that students demonstrate strengths in different ways, they have a policy that allows students to submit a combination of AP and/or SAT II scores rather than ACT or SAT scores. Overlap schools tend to be other small liberal arts schools with highly motivated, smart, maybe slightly quirky students: Bates, Bowdoin, Williams, Pitzer, some of the Ivies, and some Colorado Schools.

(c) 2012

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