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How to Write the Colorado College Essays 2022-2023

All applicants to Colorado College (CC) are required to write at least one supplemental essay and have the choice to write a second supplemental essay, as well.

Given that CC has a competitive acceptance rate and attracts exceptionally passionate, curious, and innovative high school students, we strongly encourage you to complete both essays. Seize every opportunity to showcase why you would be a standout asset to the student body and thrive at the college.  

 

In this post, we’ll go over strategies for writing standout responses to Colorado College’s essays. For more inspiration, read this Colorado College essay example by a real applicant.

 

Want to know your chances at CC? Calculate your admissions chances for free right now.

 

Colorado College Supplemental Essay Prompts

Prompt 1 (required): Why do you wish to attend Colorado College and how would the Block Plan serve your educational goals? (200 words)

Prompt 2 (optional): Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences. (250 words)

 

 

Prompt 1

Why do you wish to attend Colorado College and how would the Block Plan serve your educational goals? (200 words, required)

 

This first essay is a version of one of the most common supplement questions — “Why this college?”. This is the essay where you have the chance to show admissions how you’ll take full advantage of the academic and extracurricular resources at CC as well as how you’ll contribute to the campus community.

 

Keep in mind that this prompt asks explicitly about the Block Plan. If you’re applying to Colorado College, you should be extremely familiar with the Block Plan and be prepared to answer how you will take advantage of it. The hallmark of the plan is that students take one course over three and a half weeks (18 actual days, typically from 9:00 a.m. until noon) to cover a typical semester’s worth of curriculum. 

 

To learn more about the Block Plan, read one student’s experience of CC’s signature approach to learning. She explains how the single-course focus encourages deep learning, creativity, close relationships with students and professors, and often leads to hands-on learning. For example, this student shared her enthusiasm for an outdoor journalism class that included a week in Santa Fe during which they toured Outside magazine and met professional authors and journalists.  

 

Clarify your goals

 

Before diving into writing this essay, gain clarity about what you want to achieve in college in terms of:

 

  • Academic knowledge and skills
  • Social experiences and connections
  • Self-knowledge, personal growth
  • Career advancement

 

For example, do you want to conduct research? Study abroad? Complete pre-requisites for grad school? Complete a self-driven project? Of course, you can’t cover all these categories in a short essay. Focus on a couple and hone in on specifics, especially those that are supported by specific CC resources.  

 

Provide specificity about your fit with CC 

 

Go beyond one or two clicks on the website to find courses, extracurricular opportunities, and initiatives that excite you. Don’t just repeat the words and phrases the school uses. The key to nailing this essay is to demonstrate your excitement with specificity. Be clear about WHY the college offers you an unparalleled environment to explore your specific interests and achieve your specific goals. Use this essay to share more about who you are and how you’ll contribute to the vibrancy of the college. If you do so, your essay will stand out as unique, not as a generic response. 

 

For example, if you are potentially interested in a career in environmental policy, you can say that you want to major in Environmental Studies at CC and take the Environmental Sociology and Environmental Politics and Policy courses to learn strategies and conditions for successful policy negotiations and implementation. You could also express excitement about participating in the Colorado College Learning Initiative in the Mountains to teach middle school students with less access to the outdoors to appreciate and care for the environment. In fact, it’s one of your goals to address unequal access to green spaces, having grown up in a low-income urban environment. 

 

Even better, this student naturally shows an alignment with CC’s values. In your “Why this college” essays, you also want to demonstrate your intangible connection to a school. Since Colorado College is deeply committed to environmentalism (they’re the 8th carbon-neutral college in the nation!), this student seems like a great fit for the campus. 

 

A passion for the environment and outdoors is not the only intangible connection you can make, however. As you write your essay, you can also bring to life your personal characteristics as a learner that exemplify the stated characteristics of a successful CC student. For example, you could show how you are a self-starter, persevere through challenges, embrace ambiguity, or contribute to the learning of those around you.

 

Explicitly mention the Block Plan

 

This essay is more than “why Colorado College.” It’s “why Colorado College AND the Block Plan.” You can be sure that virtually every student who applies to CC is drawn to the school’s unique Block Plan approach. Simply stating that you are excited by the Block Plan (no matter how creatively you do so) will not differentiate you from other applicants. 

 

Instead, challenge yourself to determine:

 

  • How does the Block Plan complement or challenge my learning style?
  • How would I take advantage of the Block Plan’s flexibility?
  • What research and other experiential learning will I pursue? 
  • How might the immersive learning experience help me further my career goals?

 

Going back to the example of the student environmentalist, given that the Block Plan leaves students more time and flexibility to pursue passions outside of class, they could talk about shaping a green initiative on campus that currently doesn’t exist. (Granted, it will be a challenge to come up with a new idea given the school and student body’s deep commitment to environmentalism.)

 

On the flip side, a student interested in studying French might take advantage of the “Block Away” courses that would allow them to travel to France to learn about French culture and practice their speaking skills. Even Block courses on CC’s campus could benefit the student because the focused nature of the Block Plan creates a more immersive language experience, allowing them to make quicker progress.

 

Prompt 2

Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences. (250 words, optional)

 

This is the classic Extracurricular Essay that you’ll likely encounter more than once. While colleges learn about your extracurriculars on the Common App activities section, this is where you should provide compelling context for one of your listed activities. Again, we strongly encourage you to complete this essay even though it’s optional, especially given that you’ll likely already have some material to work from since this topic is so common. 

 

Picking the best activity or work experience 

 

With a word count of 250 maximum and instructions to focus on ONE activity or experience, it is important to think through which one has been the most influential in your development and showcases impressive commitment. Select one that shines the spotlight on your growth as a student and person. One that communicates compelling insights about you. Try to avoid activities that you’ve already discussed in-depth in other essays, as well as activities that sound impressive but you don’t actually enjoy that much. 

 

Be sure to go beyond the “what you did” to the “how” this activity affected you. For instance, if you choose to discuss your participation in the Model United Nations, do not simply state that you joined your high school Model UN team, participated in the high school conference, and attended Model UN Camp because you love debating.

 

Instead, you can briefly describe your role on the team and how it taught you to think on your feet (you were once asked to switch positions just hours before the simulation). If you were involved in issue research, you could describe the subject you studied, the dilemmas it presented to you, and how you communicated your findings with your team and during the debate. Finally you could share how the experience has influenced your interest in exploring international public policy as a career. 

 

The chart below may be helpful to determine which extracurricular offers the greatest potential for a compelling essay.

 

Pastime / Job / Activity

Meaning

You

Values it teaches

-Societal impact of those values

-Are they values of which the world needs more?

-How these values mean something unique to you

-How these values connect you to a community

-How you’ve applied these values in other areas of life

-How did you change as a person, A –> B?

Concrete skills it teaches

-What emotion do you get out of performing these tasks? Fun? Concentration? Laughter? 

-What those skills have enabled you to accomplish?

-How are you prepared for further challenges in life?

 

Crafting your extracurricular essay

 

A strong extracurricular essay typically communicates your emotions and state of mind as you participate in an activity, and how that activity has helped you develop skills and positive personality traits. An effective format is to take a deep dive into a single experience that prioritizes in-the-moment reflection, or a reflection interspersed with at least one anecdote.

 

Given the 250-word count, be precise in your language. If it comes down to a choice, prioritize a reflective approach that allows you to share your emotions and personality traits. A common mistake students make is to narrate their activity without showing the ways the activity has shaped them. 

 

Focus on the emotional meaning behind the achievements you mention. For example, why did you wake up early twice a week to spend extra time in the pottery studio throwing clay pots on the wheel before 9 a.m. AP chemistry class? How many months did it take to finally create a well-balanced form and how many glazes did you attempt before one of your creations was selected for the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards? Why was it important for you to master an artistic pursuit as a math and science lover? These details will elevate nominal awards to meaningful personal developments. 

 

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!

 


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