Colorado Universities & Colleges
Purple Mountain Majesties
Colorado Has Much To Offer
Location, location, location. It’s what you look for in a home, or a business, or a vacation spot. It matters in terms of quality of life. Why not consider it when selecting a college?
Denver and Colorado Springs sit at numbers 2 and 3 on U.S. News 2019 list of Best Places to Live in the U.S. Fort Collins and Boulder are numbers 14 and 16 on Livability’s similar list. Fort Collins appears on the list of Best Foodie Destinations. Boulder, with its mountain biking, climbing, and hiking ethos, claims the number one spot as America’s Most Fit City. And Denver ranks in the top 10 for Best Places for Millennials, which considers starting salaries for college grads. It’s no surprise that a couple of these cities are among the nation’s fastest growing. And there are fine colleges in each.
On Long Island, apart from man-made structures like homes and buildings, and the diminishing number of trees we are managing to preserve, humans are the tallest objects in our environment; people lord over the topography. You have to look long and hard to find a mountain on Long Island. Actually, you can’t. Bald Hill is, well, just a hill. This pre-eminence over our domain may occasionally over-inflate our sense of self-importance. If you want a change in perspective and a dose of universal humility, if you want to gaze in awe at the horizon, if you want to be totally gobsmacked for perhaps the first time, head on out to Colorado and stand in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, where Pike’s Peak, the purple mountain referenced in “America the Beautiful”, and its brethren and sistren, dominate the landscape. Or stand up in the mountains and peer down upon man’s communities and structures as if you were surveying an ant farm. Wonder and awe abound.
There are few better places for outdoor enthusiasts than Colorado. There are 25 world-class ski resorts within a couple hours drive from any of its cities. Mountain bikes seem to outnumber cars, and bike paths are everywhere, even in downtown Denver. On some of the college campuses, trailheads are literally just a few steps from your dorm, and you can be in the canyons and gulches within minutes. Coloradoans are happy to point out that they get more days of sunshine than even San Diego and with those 300-plus sunny days, they take full advantage of nature’s bounty. In conversation with New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts natives, it was made clear that winters in the flatlands of Colorado are milder, both in temperature and in the amount of time snow is on the ground, than our East Coast cold and dreary months. They say that despite a few late winter blizzards, the snow remains mainly in the mountains.
University of Denver (DU)
Want an urban campus with tons of green space? U Denver is actually 8 miles from Denver’s Financial Center, where the city begins to transform into a suburb. It is in an active neighborhood where commercial property and residences intermingle. Eateries abound, and represent the diverse nations that make up Denver’s population. A high-speed light-rail stops on
campus and connects students to downtown in 15 minutes. The rail system provides seamless transport to Denver International Airport, as well. Students ride free with their ID.
With 5800 undergrads, DU is the only major mid-sized university between Oklahoma and California. It prides itself on its undergrad research opportunities and its extensive co-op internship program (84% of students participate), a la Northeastern and Drexel back east. Consequently, job-placement rates are high. Business, biology, international studies, and political science are among the most popular majors, but the new Engineering and Computer Science building demonstrates their commitment to these high profile careers. DU has a multitude of 5-year Bachelors/Masters programs, and a 6-year Bachelors/JD law program.
Class sizes are small, with over 50% of classes smaller than 20 students. 95% of classes have fewer than 50 students. Professors teach all core courses, not teaching assistants. Three-quarters of students study abroad, and if you have a 3.0 or higher, you pay no additional cost for your time abroad. DU even picks up the airfare. With DU’s quarter system (as opposed to semesters), students attend classes from September through mid-November. They are on break from Thanksgiving through the New Year, then complete two more quarters between January and May.
All students must live on campus for freshman and sophomore years. Students can bring their car. DU has several themed Living Learning Communities to help students acclimate to campus and find peers with similar interests. DU offers fee-based Learning Effectiveness Program (tutoring). There are 17 Division 1 sports teams. Hockey is a big deal and, unusual for a college west of the Mississippi, so is Lacrosse. 91% are employed or attending graduate school within 6 months of leaving DU. For high-achieving students, there is an Honors Program and scholarships abound. Mid-range for accepted DU students is 3.6 - 4.0 GPA, 1190-1370 SAT, and 26-32 ACT.
Colorado College (CC)
One class at a time. CC is one of only a handful of colleges that operates on a pure block system - one class at a time for three and half weeks. Take a long weekend, then back to the grind for your next class. Most classes take place from 9:00 a.m. - 12 noon, Monday through Friday, but the block system allows for professors to alter that as they see fit. For example, the astronomy classes often take place late at night or in the hours before dawn. The block system allows for classes to be taken in remote locations, too, like in the Rocky Mountains or in a hospital lab or in any number of countries or locations. Learning about Renaissance artists? What better place to spend 18 days than in Florence, Italy? Students report that it can be pretty intense spending so much concentrated time on one subject but appreciate the depth of learning and the freedom from not having to juggle multiple subjects and assignments at once.
Located in Colorado Springs, a thriving city of about half a million people, less than an hour’s drive from Denver, Colorado College sits at the base of Pike’s Peak and on the edge of the National Forest. There is a public bus that connects Colorado Springs to Denver, but most
students rideshare from the airport to campus. A stream meanders past the west side of campus, providing a scenic running/biking trail for its students who seem drawn to the outdoors. Vast green spaces attract crowds of students, almost all of whom have afternoons free from class. Strung between the abundant trees, slacklines and hammocks are common sights.
Popular majors include Economics, Biology/Ecology, Political Science, and International Affairs. A great many students pursue pre-professional programs in the health sciences, engineering, business, and law, and ultimately, continue on to advanced degrees beyond Colorado College. CC has two Division 1 sports teams: Men’s Hockey and Women’s Soccer. The rest of the athletic program is Division 3 with strength in lacrosse and cross-country.
With an acceptance rate of only 18%, becoming one of CC’s 2100 undergrads is no easy task. Median ACT score is 32, median SAT is 1430. It is the only top liberal arts college between Iowa and the West Coast. For comparison sake, Colorado College’s campus has similarities to some highly competitive East Coast colleges like, among others, Colgate, Franklin and Marshall, Bates, Lehigh, and Amherst. Only 12% of students come from Colorado. 27% come from the Northeast. Students describe themselves as laid-back, nature-loving, extremely liberal, deep, quick thinkers, and hard workers. CC is one of very few colleges to meet 100% of demonstrated need.
University of Colorado, Boulder (CU)
You might never see more mountain bikes in one location; multi-story bike racks can be seen all across campus. Skateboards, too, abound, and there should be traffic lights to help you cross against the near-constant stream of runners. CU students are out and about and, with oodles of green space and multiple grass quads, and 300 days of sunshine, you have to keep a constant eye out for frisbees, wiffle balls, Nerf footballs, and sun-worshippers. If you’re wondering about school spirit, it’s hard to find someone dressed in colors other than black and gold. The gigantic, 53,000 seat stadium, located in the heart of campus, has no problem selling out during the Buffaloes football season. The Fitness Center is a massive tribute to activity with four pools, six basketball courts, a climbing gym, and countless studios, turfed spaces, racquet courts, and communal spaces.
Yeah, but what about academics? CU Boulder is one of the nation’s premier research universities, with strength in a multitude of academic disciplines, including the sciences (all of them), engineering (with one of the best Environmental Design programs in the country), business, music and theater, and communications. CU is one of the only universities to receive funding from NASA, and the only college to have built instruments that have traveled to every planet in our solar system, including Pluto. CU offers a multitude of 5-year Bachelor/Masters programs. Undergrads can conduct research with world-renowned scholars. CU was the birthplace of, and is 5th in the nation for number of graduates to serve in, the Peace Corps.
Middle 50% of accepted students scored between 1180 and 1370 on the SAT, 26 to 31 on the ACT, with GPAs between 3.5 and 4.0. Admission to the Schools of Engineering and
Business is even more rigorous. Those at the top end of these ranges can qualify for Honors Programs, scholarship money, and guaranteed research opportunities. 57% of students are from Colorado. 12% come from the Northeast. Students can travel free, by bus, to Denver (30 miles) and Denver International Airport.
Look at CU Boulder if you want a big school (27,000 undergrads) with lots of school spirit, a thriving city with a population of over 100,000 within a half-hour of a major metropolitan city, Denver. Students can navigate all of downtown Boulder by bike or on foot and can get into the mountains in minutes. If you’re interested in places like Penn State, U Florida, The Ohio State University, U Maryland, Indiana U and the like, go ahead and investigate CU Boulder.