I have been out of college for seven years now, but I still have nightmares that I failed a class because I forgot to do an assignment or I missed an exam. I assume this means that I’m slightly neurotic and a total perfectionist, but I also still have these dreams because college can be an overwhelming time in someone’s life. Don’t get me wrong – college is amazing in almost every way, but parts of it are also pretty stressful and difficult. After all, there’s just so much going on all the time. So one of the reasons why I love this month’s spotlight school, Colorado College, is because it operates in a way that truly works to improve the students’ experience.
Colorado College follows a unique course calendar called the block schedule. Let me explain: instead of students taking three to four courses at a time, semesters are broken down into four, three and half week courses. Students take one course at a time, five days a week. Typically, the mornings are used for in-class learning, and afternoons include labs and subject-related outings. But class schedules are based mostly on the subject itself. For instance, an astronomy course may consist partly of night study-sessions, whereas a zoology course may take you early morning wildlife watching in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Colorado College started using this system in 1970 and it has been loyal to it ever since.
Spending a solid block of time on one subject eliminates some of the chaos that college can bring and really allows students to embrace subjects. For instance, there is no cramming for three different tests at one time or struggling through homework for several different courses. There are no scatter-brained mornings spent wondering if you’ve forgotten an assignment. Students have the time and brain space to learn and focus on one subject at a time.
Additionally, class sizes at Colorado College are small and learning is intimate. There are only around 2,000 undergrads attending the school at one time. Professors know their students by name; they know when their students are struggling, and when the students need to be pushed further. By creating this environment, Colorado College allows education to be a collaborative and expressive journey. Also, the block scheduling allows students to get to know their peers on a much deeper level. Students tackle the subjects together, allowing them to experiment and grow together as a cohort.
Colorado College also has a strong commitment to providing a liberal arts education, even recently ranking 28th on a list of the best liberal arts colleges in the country. It offers over 80 different majors and minors and a Masters of Arts degree in teaching. It also resides in an amazing location, just minutes from downtown Colorado Springs, the Rocky Mountains, and many other national parks.
Colorado College really is a unique and inspiring school, and worth checking out if you are looking for a more intimate college experience. It may even help you avoid some nightmares eleven years down the road! For more information, go to http://www.coloradocollege.edu/.