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Opinions on the Block Plan

AnnafcAnnafc Registered User Posts: 122 Junior Member
edited April 2013 in Colorado College
I am an admitted student, and Colorado College is very high on my list. Top 2. However, I am not sold on the block plan. In fact, it is probably the only thing stopping me from committing. I have two concerns:
1. How do grad schools view it? Might they view it as lacking academic rigor?
2. It seems that a student at Colorado College would have a harder time double-majoring or adding a minor. For example, I am very interested in the International Political Economy major. It is 16 blocks. Since one block is 4 hours, that major comes out to be 64 hours. At most colleges, majors are around 30 hours. I'm not sure what I want to do, so I had always planned on adding many different majors or minors.

Anyway, I would love another perspective from CC parents or students. It seems like an excellent school, and the Block Plan is really the only thing holding me back.
Post edited by Annafc on

Replies to: Opinions on the Block Plan

  • chyaklachyakla Registered User Posts: 4 New Member
    I have taught at CC, so may not give the precise perspective that you are looking for (students/parents), but hope I can be helpful. I'm not speaking in any official capacity, but from my experience.

    The block plan is not for everyone. It is good for you to think carefully about it before deciding. If it is right for you, it is wonderful, though. It allows a lot of flexibility in class format. It means there is a lot of discussion and other kinds of activities every day (games, small group work, on-the-spot projects or presentations) -- no one can lecture or listen to a lecture for three hours. It allows for field trips and field work and other experiences that would be difficult to arrange on conventional academic plans. In some courses there is time off from class to work on larger papers or projects. There are also opportunities to take blocks abroad in addition to or instead of regular semester abroad programs.

    It also gives you a 4 1/2 day weekend once a month which is great for trips to the mountains or just taking a break. Again, the rhythm is very different -- rather than a slow build up over the course of the semester it is four complete -- short!-- cycles of getting used to a class, plunging into the work, writing final papers and/or taking exams. The intensity of the plan means you usually can't miss more than 3 classes in a block. This can add pressure in the event of illness, but the college does offer some flexibility in arranging late withdrawals or incompletes in such cases -- professors and administration will both work with you on this. Another downside is that there are fewer opportunities for sustained writing and revising on longer projects (though many students -do senior theses, which provide that opportunity). You definitely learn to produce quality work on short deadlines. And the classes are almost all under 25, with a few (team-taught) capped at 32. Professors are very accessible since time and deadlines are so short -- papers may be due within a few days of being assigned, for instance.

    I have never heard or experienced that grad schools think there is a lack of rigor in the block system. To the contrary, I think that it provides opportunities that can enhance an application -- it shows the ability to meet deadlines and work with focus in addition to any specific lab or field work that a student might have done.

    IPE has a relatively high number of requirements, but it is already almost a double major. I think 12 is a more typical number of required courses for a major (though I am not offhand familiar with all departments' requirements, of course). A minor may be accomplished with 5-6 courses in general, I believe. Students also get a free summer block during the four years. That said, to double major can require some planning to get everything done and in the correct sequence.

    Hope that sheds some light.
  • 07DAD07DAD Registered User Posts: 5,169 Senior Member
    Parent of a son who graduated in 2011. Agree with all the above poster said. But if the block works for you it really is a great system.

    Stats. According to the CC website 71% of CC grads begin graduate work within 5 years of graduating. So, you might be able to derive something from those numbers about how grad schools view CC grads.

    My son had a dual major in mathematical economics and dance. He had enough AP scores to enter CC classified as a soph. He had only one 100s level course the entire time he was there. Blocks worked fine for him. He said that it was great the one class that he found less than wonderful that it was over in 3-1/2 weeks rather than a semester.

    He used the block breaks to re-charge. Sometimes he and others would plan something and sometime it was more of a "chill" time. He said you can really charge hard for 3-1/2 weeks knowing that you had a break coming.

    He had a senior thesis in ME. I guess most females who get into CC have very good writing skills coming in.

    He "discovered" dance late his freshman year. The block system allowed him time to participate in all sorts of performances (school and otherwise). He used the heck out of the adjunct course credits. He used the "free summer block" also.

    He really got access to his profs at CC. He spent an 8th block in a course in Taiwan and the tuition and merit scholarships covered IT ALL including rt airfare. CC was really great and let him extend his stay 5 weeks to backpack around Asia since they did not require that he use the return leg of the airfare they paid for until he had finished the travel.

    Connections made at CC enabled him to get a job (dancing) in Taiwan for 5 months after graduation. He has supplemented his income in Taiwan and NYC tutoring in English (in Taiwan) and in college ME and statistics (a tutoring company), math (at a Harlem Charter school) and prep for ACT and SAT (a tutoring company).

    He is taking the LSAT this June for 2014 admission. And, he has been completely on his own financially since he graduated and has been able to work and travel (Taiwan, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Malayasia, Peru and Colombia) for a 2 year break before starting law school.
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