- Class: Freshman
- Major: Environmental Sciences
- Gender: M
- High School: Hingham High School
- Transfer Student: N
The block plan is a godsend for those that can handle it. The beauty of the block plan is that with no other classes to worry about, a geology course might go backpacking in the San Juans for two weeks to learn about volcanic rocks, or a world music class may go to an Indian reservation in Oklahoma to see traditional powwow music in practice. If you have a hard or boring class, it is over in one month. It isn't for everyone though, because we are essentially compacting a semester' worth of course material into one month, so students often find themselves unable to plan anything outside of the one month timeframe. Block breaks are about the best thing on the planet; every month we have four days off to ski, hike, travel, hang on campus. First block break this year I went backpacking near Aspen, second block break I went to Boulder for three days, and fifth block break went skiing for four days straight at Vail and Beaver creek. Colorado Springs gets 300 days of sunshine a year, so all year long you can look at Pikes peak, and even in the dead of winter it will be bright and sunny out. The weather just rocks, period. There isn't much I would change about CC. The food is decent, but can get repetitive, and I would prefer a bigger focus on the performing art, especially music, in the course offerings. CC is a good size for me, but if you want to be able to meet new faces all the time, it's going to be small. If you are social and proactive about meeting people, you will know your entire year by face or name by winter break. One thing about the school that you will notice is its relative obscurity for being such a high ranking institution; it gets mistaken for other Colorado schools quite often. I would say three out of four people that I tell I go to CC ask "oh, and how do you like Boulder?" The few who know CC are always impressed by the name drop though. CC has a wealth of things to do. I usually find myself spending time in the freshman dorms, which are always beehives of every activity imaginable, or down by Herb N Farm, our organic food place which has a terrace that overlooks Pikes Peak and the front range over the athletic fields. When the weather is warm the quad is awesome. Campus does a great job of bringing in bands and speakers, and you can always find a pickup game of soccer or ultimate, or maybe a drum circle. Colorado Springs is unfortunately no great shakes. It is a typical largely blue collar town with a small downtown and lots of sprawl. The downtown is becoming significantly more trendy recently, however, and cool towns and things to do are right outside of the city. Manitou Springs and Pike National Forest come to mind. College administration is friendly and efficient. The block plan creates difficulties for them, but they handle everything superbly. Discipline-wise, they are not quick to judge and are very willing to give second third and fourth chances, to an extent. They deal seriously with serious issues, however, as does the rest of campus. Recently homophobic messages were written on a gay RA's door, and the entire campus justfiably went into an uproar for weeks following the event, as it goes so strongly against CC's accepting and socially aware nature. The biggest complaints I hear on campus are about the rigor of the block plan and the cold of the winters. Colorado Springs is quite windy so when November hits, the temperature drops and everyone bundles up. Colorado weather is fickle though, so right after dumping six inches of snow on campus you can have a week straight of 60-degree sun in the middle of January.
Classes are tiny at CC. By default, a class has to be less than 25 students, and thatÕs only for the really popular classes like General Chemistry and Intro to Psych. I have not had a class of over 20 students this year, and my FYE (first year experience) course had only twelve. This breeds great student-professor relationships. Professors will usually learn your name by the second day of class or so, and almost always go by their own first name. The block plan is difficult for visiting teachers to cope with, but the ones who really know how to work with it are wonderful. There are definitely some duds, but most professors are extremely bright, friendly, and excited about their subjects. They are almost invariably easy to talk to as well. I have had dinner at a few professors houses, and some will throw their students post-final parties at their homes. Small class size also means high participation, because you arenÕt just a seat number in a huge lecture hall. The sparse requirements for graduation at CC mean that generally the kids who are in a class genuinely want to be there, and so discussions abound. The fact that we are in class for three hours with no bells or other classes to worry about helps too. CC students are a hugely intelligent and more importantly intellectual group. Even chilling in dorms you may hear conversations about early Asian art history or the works of Machiavelli or maybe Wagner. Students arenÕt competitive at all though. CC is about the least cutthroat place out there; I think students take pleasure in the fact that their peers are driven and intelligent, and donÕt want to take that away from them. CC is not a job-feeder school. People are here to learn, not to go straight into a CEO job or become the presidentÕs aide right out of college. Because of this desire for learning, the block plan allows for some pretty cool classes too. My FYE class was world music, and my professor Victoria Levine did an incredible job of bringing in performers of various traditions literally the world over, from Denver-based Irish band Colcannon to Shona Mbira players Cozma and Beaulah Dyoko. We ended the course with a class concert put on for anyone on campus who wished to attend where we played songs and dance from many different countries. My experience is not the exception either. Almost all classes involve something unique. Graduation requirements are pretty easy and allow for great flexibility. We have West in Time, which is any course dealing with Western culture, from Art history to Jazz history to 20th century modern literature of Europe. Science requirements are more of a general lab requirement that can be fulfilled in more or less any subject pertaining to sciences, from psychology to geology. Diverse cultures and critiques is a study of foreign traditions, culture, and art. For instance, my world music class fulfilled that requirement. There is a language requirement, but you can fulfill it with four straight years of a high school language. All majors and minors have their own requirements, and science majors can get pretty hectic on the block plan, as can language majors (IÕm a geology major, and the sheer amount of Chemistry and Physics classes is pretty daunting).
All groups mingle at CC. Your two best friends might be the gay, Tolkien-loving, hippie from a poor family, and the rich, well-put together soccer player who also happens to be a professional rock climber. People do not make fun of other people for being of a different lifestyle or socioeconomic background. I think that everyone appreciates that if that person is at CC, they obviously have something in common either socially, personally, or academically. CC covers the gauntlet from rich to poor, though the trend seems to be your private-schooled white kid from somewhere outside of Portland or Boston. CC seems to draw most of its student body There is more racial diversity on campus than I expected; some of my best friends are foreign students, though again the student body is primarily white. The main thing is that everyone hangs out together. People are not mean at Colorado College, so even if someone isnÕt your best friend, theyÕll almost always give you a friendly Hi or a ÒpoundÓ on their way out the door. I have been at CC for almost six months, know more or less everyone in my year, and cannot think of a single person that I honestly dislike on campus. The type of student who would feel out of place at CC is either your cutthroat, unabashedly rich socialite who wants nothing but to be rich in life and to order others around, as you might get at some Ivy league or state schools. The stereotypical shallow partying state university fraternity or sorority type would feel out of place also. I myself am in a fraternity. The greek scene is fairly small on campus, and everyone at least in my frat is friendly, driven, respectful, and not an out of control partier. The laid-back mindset of CCÕs student body means that people go to class in whatever they want. Want to look put together? Go in a blazer and nice jeans. Just rolled out of bed? Go in your pajamas! Chances are someone else in your class will be wearing them too. The North Face, Marmot, Mountain Hardware, and REI lines are pretty big on campus too, but youÕll see girls in everything from flannel pajama bottoms to leggings and Uggs with huge sunglasses. Most kids are coming from money, but that being said, people donÕt talk about their economic background or how much money theyÕll make in the future, unless its about dealing pot or selling their skis. People are politically aware but a majority are not necessarily politically active. Most care about the issues, know their issues and current events, but will not always do something about it. This is not true of everyone, but IÕve noticed it. As I said earlier, CC is a very left leaning campus especially in terms of social rights issues and the environment, but you are likely to meet a conservative uber-Christian somewhere on campus also.
The Best Things
Block plan, weather, mountains and outdoors, students
The Worst Things
Block plan, weather, food, Colorado Springs