What are your chances of acceptance?

Your chance of acceptance
Colorado College
Colorado College
Duke University
Duke University
Your chancing factors
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

How to Write the Colorado College Essays 2023-2024

Colorado College has one supplemental essay, which gives you the choice between three different prompts. The first asks you to describe a time your perspective was changed, the second concerns your potential to work towards a more racially just world, and the third is about your fit with CC’s Block Plan.


Regardless of which prompt you choose, you want to make sure your response highlights your personal strengths, and overall potential as a CC student. In this post, we’ll break down each one, so you can be sure you’re putting your best foot forward.

Read these Colorado College essay examples to inspire your writing.


Colorado College Supplemental Essay Prompts


On Colorado College’s Block Plan, students immerse themselves in one class at a time, fostering deep engagement and courageous conversations with peers and professors. We embrace diverse perspectives, encouraging students to think differently. 


Please choose from one of these prompts. To learn more about why we are asking this question and how you can best craft a thoughtful response, review our website for context and insight. (300 words) 


  • Option 1: Tell us about a time where you learned from an experience that challenged your perspective. 


  • Option 2: Provide one or two specific examples from your life that demonstrate your potential to advance CC’s commitment to antiracism. 


  • Option 3: Describe how your personal experiences with a particular community make you a student who would benefit from Colorado College’s Block Plan.



Option 1

Tell us about a time where you learned from an experience that challenged your perspective. (300 words)


Brainstorming Your Topic


Your college community will likely be much more diverse than your high school one, so you want to show CC admissions officers that you’re prepared to navigate a variety of perspectives, even ones that oppose your own. Although the phrasing of this prompt is somewhat general, Colorado College does have specific things they’re looking for. Namely:


  • What in particular about this experience challenged your perspective, and
  • What your reaction was–how did you feel, and did you change your perspective at all as a result of this experience?


Perhaps your mind immediately goes to a heated conversation you had with one of your male friends who feels that the #MeToo movement is just about seeking attention. That kind of intense debate about a highly divisive topic can absolutely work here, but if nothing along these lines comes to your mind, that’s also okay. A more lowkey moment can also work, so long as it was still a learning experience for you.


For example, maybe your parents are opposed to visible tattoos in the workplace, while you have a few teachers with tattoos and don’t see what the big deal is. Or perhaps you think ChatGPT poses fundamental risks to our safety and security, but one of your friends who’s an aspiring software engineer sees only the potential benefits.


We all have these kinds of “tame” disagreements all the time, but that doesn’t make them less significant. If anything, highlighting a more ordinary conversation you had may show CC admissions officers that you not only are able to have your perspective challenged in big, flashy ways, but go about your daily life always looking for ways to become more informed, which is a trait any college will find attractive.


Finally, if you’re feeling bold, you can go for an unconventional, outside-the-box approach here. You could write about a passionate discussion you had with a friend about which Taylor Swift album is her magnum opus. Or you could write about how you grew up being indoctrinated into believing Peyton Manning is the greatest quarterback of all time, but eventually evidence to the contrary became overwhelming and you had no choice but to admit it is in fact Tom Brady.


Although you’re definitely putting yourself out on a limb with this kind of topic, mixing up your tone and showing a more “human” side of yourself, that will never show up on your resume, can in fact be a great way of making your application feel more complete. However, unconventional approaches also carry more risk if not executed well, so if you’re not confident you’ll be able to pull it off, stick to a more standard approach, as you can still write a phenomenal essay without doing anything unusual.


Tips for Writing Your Essay


Your response should include two things. First, a description of the particular perspective you’re focusing on, and the encounter(s) that challenged it. Second, and even more importantly, an explanation of what you learned from this experience.


In describing the encounter, you want to make sure your readers understand in some detail what the source of the disagreement was. In other words, what is the real cause of the argument? For the tattoo example, perhaps what you were really debating with your parents was standards of professionalism that you see as antiquated. Or maybe it was the clash between self-expression and being part of something bigger than yourself. Whatever the case, getting to this deeper level of the conversation will show CC admissions officers you’re able to think critically about a topic, and not just stay at surface level.


Once you’ve explained what the disagreement was, you want to explain how it played out, and ultimately what you learned. The most important things here are honesty and a clear connection to the story you have just told. If your big takeaway just reads as a platitude, along the lines of “I still think tattoos in the workplace are okay, but I now understand the importance of understanding other perspectives,” you’re going to lose your readers, because admissions officers at any college have read literally tens of thousands of essays saying that exact same thing.


Rather, take this general lesson and contextualize it within your particular story. For example, you could say: “To me, ink on someone’s skin is just another accessory, but my parents made me realize that there are accessories I find inappropriate for the workplace, like overly large or flashy jewelry. So, while I still think tattoos are okay, I now understand that there’s always more nuance to an opposing perspective than I initially think.”


The general idea is the same with these two examples, but the second one is much more personal, and thus CC admissions officers better understand how this oft-repeated refrain, about the importance of listening, has tangibly impacted this student’s perspective.


Finally, honesty is also crucial here. If you try to force in a takeaway that you think CC admissions officers “will want to hear,” your essay will feel awkward and disjointed. Obviously, be tactful–you don’t want to say your parents are idiots and still living in the Stone Age, even if that is how you felt after the tattoo conversation. But if you genuinely felt their opinion was just wrong, it’s okay to say that, so long as you do it respectfully and show that you still learned something from the discussion. For example:


“As the conversation went on, I was surprised to realize that my parents’ points weren’t doing anything to sway me. I understood what they were saying, but for perhaps the first time in my life, I felt completely confident in taking a stance that directly opposed their own. While we still agree far more often than not, this discussion showed me that, as I get older, it’s okay to develop and stick to my own opinions, without the influence of my parents or anyone else.” 


Although the student’s mind wasn’t changed at all, they still demonstrate a nuanced understanding of how opinions are formed, and of how your perspective on the world changes as you move through adolescence into early adulthood, which speaks well of their potential to thrive with the independence higher education gives you.


Mistakes to Avoid


Make sure you don’t end up focusing too much on the debate itself, at the expense of explaining what you learned from it. The details of one side versus the other really only matter to the extent that they allow your readers to understand what separates the two. Remember, CC admissions officers mainly want to see how you react to disagreement, which means diving into a side tangent about how your dad once had a coworker with a large, poorly done dragon tattoo isn’t all that relevant. Stay on topic, and in any college essay, regardless of what you’re writing about, the real topic is always ultimately you.


Option 2

Provide one or two specific examples from your life that demonstrate your potential to advance CC’s commitment to antiracism. (300 words)


Brainstorming Your Topic


The first thing we want to note here is that the way colleges factor race into their admissions decisions will be different this year, following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn affirmative action in June. Schools can no longer consider a student’s racial identity alone, but they are allowed to consider it as part of a student’s overall background and life experiences, specifically in the context of the essay. 


If your racial identity is important to you, this prompt is a great opportunity to explain a bit more about how it’s shaped you, as otherwise CC will be legally unable to think about it as they make a decision about your application.


Even if you are not a person of color, you can still respond to this prompt, of course. You just want to make sure that you take care to use a thoughtful tone, and don’t frame your contributions to the antiracism movement in a way that could come across as naive or worse, self-absorbed. The movement needs everyone, of course, but you want to be sure to show that you recognize your role is different from that of people of color.


Regardless of your racial identity, once you decide this prompt is the one for you, note that this is not the common “Diversity” supplement, although there is some correlation. So, your focus should be less on your identity, and more on the tangible actions you have taken to combat racism. Of course, there may well be overlap between the two, but make sure the actions are there, as that’s the core of what this prompt is getting at.


“Action” doesn’t necessarily mean participating in protests or writing to your local congressperson to encourage her to support antiracist bills. Those things absolutely work, but just because you haven’t done something on that scale doesn’t mean you haven’t helped work towards an antiracist future. Lots of small steps, when added all together, matter just as much as one big one.


Maybe you live in a homogenous, mostly White town, but you have made an effort to read books and watch documentaries on the lived experiences of people of color, as well as the history of racism in the United States, to develop at least a broad understanding of race relations. Or perhaps you are African American, and during a creative writing summer camp, your final project was a collection of poems focused on your struggle to find empowerment in your identity, and you were touched by how thoughtfully your peers engaged with your work.


As long as your actions show that you are genuinely committed to the antiracism movement, you can write a strong response centered around them. The scale doesn’t matter–what does is your authentic investment in a more just future.


Tips for Writing Your Essay


Once you have a few examples of antiracist actions you’ve taken, you’re ready to start writing. In your response, the key is to highlight “your potential to advance CC’s commitment to antiracism.” What this means is that you don’t just want to describe what you’ve done in the past. You also want to explain what you’ve learned from these experiences–whether that’s a particular skill, perspective, or way of thinking–and how those lessons will help you make Colorado College’s campus more inclusive and equitable.


For example, maybe the student with the poetry collection talks about how this experience showed him the power of art as a conversation starter, and how at CC he hopes to join the B-Side Arts Collective, a student organization that seeks “to make all forms of art more accessible to historically marginalized students at CC.” In joining this group, he hopes to both continue sharing his own stories and learn from students who are marginalized for reasons other than race. 


You don’t absolutely have to include some specific club or other resource at CC to write a strong response, but 9 times out of 10, your essay will be stronger if you make this explicit link between your past experiences and your potential future at CC. After all, the job of an admissions officer is to imagine how you’d fit into their school’s culture and community, and what makes that job easier than you doing it for them, and explaining exactly how you hope to get involved in antiracism efforts at CC?


You also want to make sure your takeaways from your past experiences are thoughtful and personal. If you say that participating in a Black Lives Matter protest made you want to run for president so that you can just sign bills that eliminate institutional racism, you may come across as overly idealistic, or naive about the complexity of the issue. 


A better approach would be explaining that, while protesting was empowering, it also made you realize that any demonstration, no matter how large, won’t change anything if the people in power aren’t paying attention. So, at CC, you hope to take political science courses like “PS210: The Law & Social Justice” and “PS213: Leadership and Governance” to acquire a better understanding of how individual action can be most effective.


Mistakes to Avoid


There isn’t really anything glaring you need to be on the lookout for, as this prompt has quite a narrow focus and thus should keep you on track. Just make sure that the essay is ultimately about you. Racism is something you probably have strong, potentially painful feelings about, but you don’t want your essay to turn into an op-ed about the evils of racism. 


Write that piece another time. But because this is a college essay, the point is to teach admissions officers about who you are. So, you want to be sure that you’re not just focusing on racism, but also showing which skills or personality traits you’ve developed as a result of your commitment to fighting this evil, so that CC admissions officers see how prepared you are to make their campus a more equitable place.


Option 3

Describe how your personal experiences with a particular community make you a student who would benefit from Colorado College’s Block Plan. (300 words)


Brainstorming Your Topic


This is essentially a “Why Us?” prompt, asked through the framing of the Block Plan specifically. There’s also an extra layer of nuance with CC’s request that you use a particular community you are a part of as a jumping off point. Because this prompt is essentially two in one, we recommend that you allow yourself ample time to brainstorm, so you aren’t trying to make connections in a rush without thinking through them fully.


First, ask yourself honestly why you are interested in the Block Plan. Why, rather than applying to any of the thousands of colleges with a more conventional academic schedule, are you drawn to this highly unusual system? There is no one right answer here, but you want to make sure you’re being specific–just “it sounds fun/cool” won’t teach CC admissions officers anything about your potential fit within their campus community. 


Here are some examples of how you might answer this question:


  • You enjoy exploring a topic from every angle, and hate the feeling that you have only a partial understanding of something
  • You like making interdisciplinary connections, but feel you need to first have a solid foundation in each topic on its own, which can be hard to acquire if you’re already fast-forwarding to potential links between them
  • For a slightly different angle, you get bored easily, no matter how interested you are in a topic initially, so you think the opportunity to switch focus completely every few weeks would be the perfect way to keep you fully engaged in your studies


Next, you want to think about how your interest in Colorado College relates to the features that define some community you’re a part of. For example, maybe you’ve been part of a neighborhood book club with your mom since you were a kid, and each month you read two books about the same topic, to ensure you consider that topic from at least a couple of different perspectives. This community has clearly helped you develop the value listed in the first bullet point above.


If you’re feeling stuck, take a step back, and think generally about experiences you’ve had that have helped you develop the features of your personality that make you attracted to the Block Plan. “Community” is a broad word, so even if something like a book club doesn’t immediately come to mind, that’s okay. 


For example, maybe the student described in the third bullet point starts thinking about how they’re a part of seven different fantasy football leagues, because when they only had one team, they didn’t feel challenged enough, and so they would end up making unnecessary changes just out of boredom. A fantasy football league is absolutely a kind of community! Don’t worry that it doesn’t seem “impressive” enough. Admissions officers know you’re more than a transcript and an activities list and a bunch of essays, and acknowledging your more “human” side can actually go a long way towards rounding out your application.


Tips for Writing Your Essay


Because this prompt has two prongs, one focused on the Block Plan and one focused on a community you’re a part of, you want to make sure you do your brainstorming thoroughly before you sit down to start writing. If you only have a vague sense of why you’re drawn to the Block Plan, or pick a community randomly that doesn’t really connect to your interest in the Block Plan, this essay will prove incredibly difficult to write.


On the other hand, if you have already thought comprehensively about both the Block Plan and one of your communities, as well as the connection you see between the two, actually writing the essay should be fairly straightforward, as it’ll just be a matter of figuring out the right phrasings and overall structure to communicate your points.


The main thing to keep in mind is: show, don’t tell. What this means is you want to give your reader enough detail that they can paint their own picture of who you are and how the Block Plan would help you thrive, rather than you just stating things factually for them. 


For example, you don’t want to just say “I get bored easily, as evidenced by the fact that I have seven fantasy football leagues, and I think the frequent changes with the Block Plan will help me stay engaged in my college coursework.” That’s quite dry, and not all that engaging to read.


Instead, describe how your mind always comes alive at the end of August as you consider the innumerable possibilities for how your teams could come together across your seven leagues, and how much you enjoy reacting to the curveballs of injuries, trades, and unexpectedly high or low performers. Then, connect that energy to your excitement about getting to switch your intellectual focus completely every few weeks, as all of a sudden you’ll have an entirely new “league” to get to know in just a short amount of time. 


This approach is not only more detailed, and thus more informative, it’s also simply more fun. Remember, admissions officers read applications all day long, so they’ll appreciate you going out of your way to inject some extra life into yours.


Mistakes to Avoid


As noted above, this prompt has two layers, which means a strong response will need to address two different strands and then intertwine them to create an essay that feels like a single, cohesive unit. This is hard to do, especially with limited space, so if you’re not sure you’ll be able to make it work, or you try to start brainstorming but hit a wall, don’t beat yourself up. The beauty of option prompts is you have, well, options, and there’s no shame in pivoting to one of the other options here, as they are more direct and one-track.


Where to Get Your Colorado College Essay Edited 


Do you want feedback on your Colorado College essays? After rereading your essays countless times, it can be difficult to evaluate your writing objectively. That’s why we created our free Peer Essay Review tool, where you can get a free review of your essay from another student. You can also improve your own writing skills by reviewing other students’ essays. 


If you want a college admissions expert to review your essay, advisors on CollegeVine have helped students refine their writing and submit successful applications to top schools. Find the right advisor for you to improve your chances of getting into your dream school!


Short Bio
Our college essay experts go through a rigorous selection process that evaluates their writing skills and knowledge of college admissions. We also train them on how to interpret prompts, facilitate the brainstorming process, and provide inspiration for great essays, with curriculum culled from our years of experience helping students write essays that work.