Colorado colleges

I visited five Colorado colleges and universities with a busload of other Jesuit high school counselors in March 2008.

On this page: Regis, University of Denver, Colorado College, US Air Force Academy, CU Boulder

First stop: Regis University in Denver. 

Located in a nice residential area of north Denver, this is the only Jesuit university in Colorado. Students come mainly for Colorado's weather and outdoor activities. The largest class size is 50 in a science lecture. There are 1600 full-time undergrads on campus. Regis also has a huge world-wide online student population (12,000). Regis boasts the 2nd largest performing arts center in the U.S. The Jesuit aspect was evident in each student we met, who at some point mentioned the motto "How ought I to live?"

Popular majors, Internships
PT PhD, pharmacy, nursing. Internships are offered in every major. History majors sometimes intern at a nearby museum, while philosophy majors may be on an ethics panel in state government. A math major interned with a jewelry designer and learned CAD. A neuroscience major interned at the coroner's office. A political science major interned with ABC News political unit in D.C.

Cross apps
Students also applied to Creighton, Salve Regina, DU, CSU, CU Boulder.

We toured the new science building with an enthusiastic Molecular Biology professor. Neuroscience is a popular major. Grants from NIH and NSF fund equipment and research. They have a high pass rate on the nursing exam: 91%. They offer a full scholarship for a great science students.

Full ride for some NCAA D2 athletes. 65% of full ride for some baseball, softball and soccer athletes. Lower tier sports are golf, cross country and lax.

Class rank is not a consideration. C+ students with 950 on the SAT is the minimum. They will not accept a student below a 2.3 gpa: too risky.
Solid students who don't test well are fully supported at Regis. They even accept some students on probation: a bright but lazy student!

Denver area students get priority for financial aid.  They do not meet 100% of need. They offer money for talented science majors, debaters, and some athletes.

Student Panel. Bottom line: average students, shy is ok, religious.

  • A junior English/Spanish major from Grand Junction Colorado who was also accepted at DU. She likes that freshman are not in triples but doubles.
  • A freshman nursing major from Littleton Colorado who likes the proximity to Denver.
  • A freshman undecided from Denver who is involved in campus ministry. He did not want a party school and said that after the first few weeks when freshman celebrated their independence, it has settled down.
  • A junior in the honors program. The Honors program offers half tuition plus honors scholarship. Students in the honors program had 29ACT, 1325 SAT, and get perks like early registration and extra speakers.
University of Denver
I used to work at DU in the 1990s and the campus has changed dramatically since then! 19 new buildings in 10 years. Ainsley S '08 attends DU.

10% of their students come from the northeast. DU is located in a more urban section of Denver than Regis but not downtown. They emphasize a worldly view and ethics. The business program is nationally ranked. Retention rate is 87% from freshman year to sophomore year, while the national average is just 72%. Greek life attracts 15-20% of students to 9 frats and 6 sororities, and their activities are open to the entire college community.

The D1 hockey team draws huge crowds. Tuition, room and board and fees add up to $56,000.

50% admit rate. Cheverus admitted students - GPA range 3.3-3.9 and SATs 550-650. Interview strongly recommended; closest location is Boston. Half of the decision rests on GPA/courses/grade trend with junior year the most important. They count number of As and Bs versus number of Cs and Ds. One third of the decision hinges on SAT scores. DU keeps Theology on our transcript and does not recalculate gpa.
Problem: students are applying to too many colleges. That makes it hard for colleges to figure out the student's intent to enroll or not.

Student Panel. Bottom line: students are involved in lots of things outside the classroom!
An Illinois senior who is a hotel/tourism major. Her high school counselor and the Colorado location influenced her choice of DU. She planned the grand opening of the new Daniels School of Tourism building. She studied abroad in Switzerland at the #2 hospitality school in the world. DU holds a career fair just for hotel/tourism majors. She has a job already at the Four Seasons in Chicago. She also applied to Loyola Chicago, Colorado College, Drake.

A senior from Iowa who is a management major. He loves Denver and went to Spain for study abroad. He applied to Miami of Ohio and U of Iowa. His favorite course was "understanding campaigns and elections". He hopes to find a job in the nonprofit sector in something like community outreach.

A freshman from Oregon who is a mechanical engineering major. He is in the kayak club and says the Colorado lifestyle was the draw. He is taking a 5-year program that combines ME with and MBA. His favorite class was building a robot that had to race others. He also applied to Santa Clara and Puget Sound. His one complaint is the food. He lives in a social justice living/learning community on campus.

A student from Louisiana who chose DU over LSU because LSU was too big. She is a political science/communications major and involved in the alpine club. Her largest class had 60 students. The orientation group and the first year seminar group are made up of the same students so you meet people right away. She also applied to Emerson, Lewis & Clark, LSU and Ithaca. Her favorite class was the first year seminar where they studied Genesis through film.

A senior political science/government major who also studied abroad in Spain. Denver and D.C. have the highest population of federal employees so that's how he picked DU. He may like to work for the EPA or NIA. He interned with  a senator. He notes you cannot skip classes because they are on the quarter system as opposed to the semester schedule. Therefore classes meet for extended hours and attendance is taken. He was surprised by how much reading was required but has gotten used to it.
Colorado College
The most important thing to know about CC is their unique format: students take one course at a time for 3.5 weeks. Can you manage your time well? You have to! You're in class in the morning, then on your own the rest of the time. Your mid term exam is one week away! Students say they do about 3 hours of homework/studying each night but they really like just concentrating on one class at a time. Students report they work hard and play hard. They take 8 classes a year but don't need 32 to graduate, so there's some flexibility. You could take a 3.5 week session off, for example. Athletes usually take off a 3.5 week session or two during their season. (one hockey player just signed with the NY Islanders!) Largest class size is 25. There's a 4 day break between sessions.

Located in Colorado Springs, you can see Pikes Peak from campus. Tree lined streets in a residential area. Outdoor Club is the most popular. There's a piano in each dorm. The freshman dorms are doubles and triples.

Ice hockey and lacrosse are popular sports. I saw students on skateboards, playing guitars, volleyball, frisbee. Students are outdoors-enthusiasts, engaged in clubs and focused in the classroom.

Ed Stevens, Cheverus '05 is a junior at CC and his a capella group recorded its first cd recently.

87% graduate in 4 years. That is impressive. More impressive is their 97% retention rate between freshman and sophomore years.

If you took 4 years of a language in high school you can try to test out of CC's foreign language requirement.


Unfortunately, two applicants from Cheverus were denied, and they were strong students in the A- range. CC's admit rate plummeted recently to 23%.  CC competes with the following schools for students: Middlebury, Bowdoin, Colby, Grinnell, Macalaster, Carleton. CC looks for students who are passionate about learning, curious about global issues, and knowledgeable about their block plan. Students cannot be passive about learning, since classes are high stakes and fast-paced. 75% of students are full payers. They are NOT need blind in their admission decisions. They do meet 100% of need. Grants are guaranteed all 4 years. Their admit rates are as follows: ED 40%; EA 38%; Regular 20%.

What if I am wait listed at CC?
Two years ago they took 15-30 from the wait list. Three years ago they took no one. It is highly unpredictable. They welcome a 1-2 paragraph letter by April 15, then a phone call after May 3 if you are still interested. Only half who come off the wait list will be offered financial aid.

Average class size is 17, and decreases to 8 in more advanced classes. Students march or run to class. 1300 start out as freshman, but only 1000 graduate. Admissions seeks students who initiate the process themselves, and aren't driven by their parents. If you drop out the first 2 years you do not have to repay the tuition/room and board. For each hour spent in class they expect you will study for 2 hours. You cannot change your major after sophomore year. One unique aspect is that new students are offered a sponsor family, from the local area, where they can go for Sunday dinner or just to unwind. Some students utilize this 'family' more than others. Students must stay within 250 miles of campus during weekends. You are provided with a uniform and laptop.

D1 sports in the Mountain West Conference.

3.8 gpa is typical of admitted freshmen. Being involved in clubs is fine and leadership is a must-have. A summer seminar is offered to juniors. It does not guarantee that you will be admitted to the Academy later, but you will get an idea of what USAFA is like.

Half of the freshman are from out of state. They have an 84% retention rate from freshman to sophomore year. Admission stats: 3.6 gpa, 1200 SATs. 70% of applicants have AP classes and get credit. Cheverus experiences long wait times for decisions, although Admissions claims they start mailing decisions in October. Physics, chem and bio are required for admission, as are 3 years of foreign language. Higher gpa required for business and engineering majors.

Cheverus connections: Jess E '08 and Hayden P '09 attend CU Boulder.

They are proud of their astronaut history, having graduated 18.

Sciences are big, as are business and engineering. Business and engineering have 5 year master's programs.

Journalism and education: you can apply to major in these after sophomore year if you have a 3.0. 70% of students are in the Arts and Sciences College, home to 45 majors. Course selection is broken into thirds: 1/3 of your courses are in your major, 1/3 are core, and 1/3 are elective.

85% of classes are 50 students or less. Half are under 20. Chemistry classes may number 500 in a lecture hall but they break up into groups of 30-35 weekly with a teaching assistant.

CU Boulder prides itself on being #3 in the country for graduating Peace Corps volunteers. Here's a picture of me with the mascot, the buffalo: