Many small liberal arts colleges boast about their uniqueness, but often I struggle to distinguish one from another without using the physical location or campus features. I don’t have this problem with Colorado College; it is only of only a handful of schools on a block schedule.
Colorado College’s Block Plan divides the year into eight blocks of three-and-a-half weeks. Students take one class per block session. As I spoke to students during my campus visit, most said the block schedule was a primary factor in their decision to attend CC.
Taking one class at a time means students can immerse themselves in one subject – no other papers to write or classes to worry about, only one final to study for. In 3 ½ weeks students cover what would take a semester at other schools. Typically classes meet from 9 to noon each morning and students have all afternoon / evening to complete reading and research assignments.
Because students take one class at a time, it is possible for classes to be taught “on location.” My tour guide bragged about spending a block in the Colorado mountains on the Baca campus to study astronomy. Even the summer block in the Mediterranean Sea in which students followed the actual path of Odysseus as they studied Homer’s “Odyssey” tempted me. (I know my Western Civ. class would have been far more compelling on location!)
Another benefit of the block plan is the block break, the 5-6 day break between each block. Students took these mini-vacations as opportunities to travel, go home, complete service projects, and just relax.
The block plan isn’t for everyone. Taking one class at a time can be intense and some students find it difficult to absorb information quickly. All students I talked to agreed that CC isn’t the right school for someone who just wants to “get by” in college; the small classes and close interaction with professors demand student participation. Colorado College appeals to bright students who look forward to the challenge of this unique academic schedule.