Millions of high school Seniors are pouring over admissions brochures this weekend, pondering their next life step as National College Decision Day looms right around the corner. Monday, May 2, 2011, bright eyed students full of enthusiasm and hope for the future will alert schools of their final choices for college. For me, the decision was easy. I knew early on that I wanted to attend Colorado College in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
I investigated only five schools, including Northwestern in Evanston, Illinois, Hamilton College in Clinton, New York, Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa, and the University of Colorado in Boulder, but Colorado College had everything I was looking for in higher education.
Colorado College, being just 60 miles to the south of my hometown of Denver, Colorado, regularly entertained prospective students and their parents with slideshows and Q&A sessions. My parents and I attended one of these events at a hotel, possibly a Marriott, south of town somewhere in the fall of 1991. The most intriguing feature of this small Liberal Arts school nestled below majestic Pikes Peak is CC’s signature Block Plan. Students work on one class for three and a half weeks and then get a 4 1/2 day break. Who could say no to that? (It’s not an easy educational path and you NEED a break after the work you put into that one class). I applied early and then forgot about my application until January of 1992 when I was formally invited to Colorado College.
In the meantime over the holidays I looked into Northwestern because of its reputation and location, Hamilton because of my perception it would be peaceful, Boulder because of the in-state tuition, and Cornell because they also follow a block plan. Iowa was awfully far away from home and Boulder was just …well, Boulder. You have to be a dyed-in-the-wool Denver Native to get why living up there wasn’t my first choice. If Mount Vernon was too far from home, then Evanston was right up there on the whimsical choice list too. Just days after I applied to these other schools, CC sent me a letter of early admission and I thought about it for about a minute before I decided to accept. At that moment both my parents must have had their simultaneous mini-heart attacks as they contemplated the private tuition costs we would all incur. In retrospect being close to home was another boon, as I lost my father just a few short years later and have always been glad for the proximity to home during college.
I came out of the experience at Colorado College with a deeper appreciation for diversity, largely because compared to Capital Hill in Denver, downtown Colorado Springs is very homogenous and the College itself has struggled with issues of diversity for a long time. However, I was challenged in every class to participate, verify and question, skills I use adeptly as a teacher, wife, and mother now. I met lifelong friends and my husband at CC. I had incredible experiences there, like repeatedly getting to sing the National Anthem with some of my closest friends at the now demolished historic Broadmoor World Arena for a true Renaissance CC Tiger Hockey Team. I also got to see a page from a sketchbook belonging to Henri Matisse on a trip to a conservatory and hold a human brain, in fact many of them, in my own hands as a Neuroscience student. I saw the most amazing sunsets.
I became an independent person there.
The price of my CC education is the only factor that I have both lauded and cursed about my college experience over the years since graduating. Well, I desperately miss those block breaks too. Everything else, including the year I was a Resident Advisor, was worth it.
To all the youngsters seeking comfort in their own college acceptance decisions, I just have to say that if you’ve followed your gut, you probably made the right decision. So, good luck. You’ll never be able to anticipate all the crazy things you’ll experience in your college days. Just remember to write some of it down.
University of Colorado Boulder
Associated Content; “World Class Winter Sports at the Broadmoor Hotel”, Hascy Tarbox
Pikes Peak, “America’s Mountain”