Ask Questions about Colorado School of Mines Here

Hi all!

I know that when I was applying to Mines, I frequented this message board for tips and info about the school, so I figured I would return the favor and offer my aid to any of you prospective students (or parents :wink: ).

My background, just so you know who’s answering your questions, is that I will be a sophomore in Civil Engineering and am a member of the Honors program. I am very active in all aspects Mine’s athletics, while not being an athlete myself, and was a member of the Themed Learning Communities on campus. I am not affiliated with the Mine’s admissions team or any other official Mine’s department, so I won’t sugar coat my answers to your questions, but I still am a little biased towards Mines because I really do love it here.)

Three things I’ll tell you right off the bat, because I see it often here in the CSM forum:

  1. Yes, Mines is hard to get into; however, it obviously is not impossible like an Ivy. I can tell you from personal experience, that they definitely look at course load more than ANY thing else. I took 5 AP sciences by the time I graduated (excessive, but I enjoyed it) and had a GPA on the lower end of the average for acceptance.

  2. If you make it past the admission department’s frustration, you can do anything. The admissions team WILL get behind in applications when the tidal wave of high school seniors apply in September, like any other admissions team. If you are really itching to get college decisions, make sure you apply as early as you can, just so you don’t get caught up in the backlog that really piles up beginning in October.

  3. The Ratio. As a girl on campus, I was concerned that it would be awkward and detrimental being in the 27-30%, however, once you take about half of the guys out because they are playing video games in their dorm 24/7 (stereotypical as it may seem), the “ratio” really begins to feel very even. In my year so far at Mines, I have only been in a handful of situations where I even stop to notice it.

I hope this helped some of you, and if you have any more questions, feel free to ask! I’ll check back every now and then to answer anything you are worried, concerned or curious about!

MODERATOR’S NOTE: Anyone is free to ask or answer questions here. Please do not ask for chances in this thread, however. That is not the point of this thread.


We will be touring Mines in a couple of weeks for my son, but I have a couple of questions you might answer candidly:

  1. I read on another thread that Mines is overenrolled for this fall. Have you noticed any crowding on campus or with housing, and are you able to get into the classes you need?
  2. Do you know if computer science at Mines is a strong program, or is it considered one of the weaker programs at Mines?
  3. How difficult is it to change majors?

Glad to hear that you are enjoying Mines. Thanks for your input!


  1. Mines does have the unfortunate habit of over enrolling their freshman classes, yes. However, even on the small campus, the only place you really feel that is in the dorms when some people are placed in forced triples due to the lack of sufficient housing on campus. My class was also over-enrolled, but I barely noticed it.

As for classes, there’s a little bit of stress associated with getting your schedule but I haven’t heard of anyone not getting a class they needed. It’s a policy in the registrar’s office that they will let a student into a full class if they need the class to graduate in four years. Plus, since everyone is taking essentially the same course load for freshman and some of sophomore year, there are lots of sections of essentially every 100 and 200 level. Schedules are also determined by how many credits you have, so the more you have, the sooner your time slot is for registration.

  1. I am not the most informed on the CompSci program at Mines, however, I do know it is definitely strong with a good department. In relation to the rest of the school, the perception is that it falls pretty mid range in terms of perceived difficulty, with majors like BioChem and Petroleum being the harder ones and Mechanical being the “go-to” engineering program.

  2. If you haven’t declared yet, it’s super easy. You go to CASA, fill out a half sheet of paper and give it to your adviser. Bam, done! I switched my major from electrical to civil last semester and it probably took me about 10 minutes.

If you have declared, there are a few more hoops to jump through where you have to get signatures from your old department and your new department and you have to switch advisers. Plus you may be behind with pre-reqs if you do it too late. Luckily, you don’t declare until sophomore year usually, and you don’t start taking major specific classes until sophomore year (maybe one your freshman year).

Good to know that over enrollment hasn’t been a major issue. Can’t wait to check out the campus.

Thanks for the quick response!

@ThatOneEngineer - Thanks for starting this thread - I remember seeing it last year when my S17 was applying. He is starting his second week of classes at Mines today and seems to be very happy there!

With the rolling admissions process, do they either reject or accept you based on the information in your initial application, or will they hang on to your application and consider later test scores you send? My DS has only taken the SAT once, and is hoping to get a better math score. I am afraid that his current score isn’t as high as it sounds like they might want to see (650). He feels like he will do better taking it a second time, and he got a 5 on the AP Calculus AB exam, so he is good at math. So, is it better to wait until he has another score to report? Or better to get your application in now before the rush?

@ThatOneEngineer - My son recently toured Mines and he felt that many of the students seemed wholly engrossed with their field of study. He has many interests, and would definitely would like to get involved with activities outside of his major. Can you discuss social life at Mines a bit more? Do you have any insight into Greek life, and what do students do on the weekends?

Also, do you get the sense that most students intend to pursue careers in mining and energy, or do some plan to work in other fields?


With admissions, their policy is typically one of two things. I actually struggled with the same issue myself when I was applying, so I’ll kinda tell you what they told me, with some extra info. Pretty much you have two options.

One, you can apply now with the score you have. The pro of this is getting that Golden Application which guarantees you a decision by about a month and a half which is good, because the admissions team gets VERY behind. There is potential that if you apply in December, you won’t receive a decision until Easter. However, I would only do this if you think that your score is good enough to get accepted. Once you’re accepted, you can resubmit your scores as many times as you want (up until mid spring, I think) in order to increase your merit money received. (That’s decided by a mixture of instate/outofstate, gpa, and test scores and it’s pretty much "if you’re above blah, blah, then you get this much, and above blah, blah, you get this much). This is what I ended doing as I applied early with fairly average scores and then sent my updated scores to get more merit money.

If you really think that you are on the cusp of just getting accepted (that is to say, if you have a relatively average gpa, rank and don’t really standout in addition to a not-so-great score), I would wait, and retake the test. A longer timeline for a decision is not worth potentially not getting admitted.


Like any campus, there are the people who are really into what they do and then there are the ones who like a more versatile education. Freshman and sophomore year, you really get involved with anything you want to because Mines has literally everything, from theater to pyrotechnics club to trail running to ice cream club (I am really not kidding on the last one). Social life at Mines is existent, contrary to our title as a STEM school. On the weekends, people go hiking on some of the nearby trails, they hang in the dorms and get to know who they’re living with, or go out into downtown Golden to shop, eat or go tubing down clear creek (super fun, would recommend!) MAC (Mines Activity Council) also makes sure that there’s always something fun to do every week, from new movies getting shown in the theater to sponsoring tickets to sporting games in the Denver area (which is a very easy bus ride away!)

Greek life (while not in it myself), is a great opportunity on campus to really get to know people and do more social things than your standard student. They put on some really fun events that are open to all students as well as some that are just Greek. They have some great communities and I would definitely recommend looking at them if you are interested in Greek Life.

Going into junior and senior year, classes get much more intensive and group project based, meaning a lot of time gets dedicated to them. It’s also when people start to really think about internships and jobs. Overall, this may make them seem more major-oriented. I would agree that the mindset of a lot of students is fairly industry-driven because we are being taught to see engineering in the world in all of our classes, but I think that really just speaks to how enthusiastic everyone is here about what they are doing.

Personally, I think your level of social involvement depends on you as a person. I know that I could not function if all I did was schoolwork and thinking about my professional life, so I make sure to have outlets that I can enjoy myself. There is definitely no shortage of opportunities on campus to really get involved with anything you want to do.

As for what industries most people go into, I would say that there is definitely a push towards energy, in pretty much every major. However, I know a ton of people, including myself, who aren’t interested in the slightest with pursuing that kind of career path and they don’t feel left out. Te great thing about Mines is that we offer specific engineering majors, and because we are only engineers and scientists, we are able to focus even more on what we want to to do. Each major has tracks within it that you can focus on. Civil can deviate into construction, surveying, environmental, geotechnical, structural, and water resources. CompSci can tack a math versus a programming path, ect. If you’re interested in a specific subdivision that Mine’s offers, you can check out this link that can take you to each of the departments webpages (I only really know the civil one, as all of them are set up a little bit differently):

                With the gender mismatch, it seemed to be that they still distribute Harvey scholarships out evenly. Do you know if that means the bun fight for top scholarships is benefitting girls with lower scores? What kind of ACT score does that look like for a female applicant? (so not the 14K a year type scholarships that seem to be given out as standard, but significant scholarships).

@ThatOneEngineer - Thanks for all the detail! I will pass the information along to my son.


So, full disclosure, I know a couple people who are Harvey Scholars, however, I don’t know too too much much about the program or selection criteria. When I applied two years ago, they were accepting applications from people who had a 3.85 GPA (UW) and above a 30 ACT (not terribly positive those were the exact numbers, but they were high). Once you’ve applied, it’s still a very competitive pool of applicants, so I wouldn’t say that a particular gender has a better chance with lower scores, because at that point, everyone is within hundredths of a GPA point. There may be a slight advantage to being a girl due to campus ratio, however the application pools for the first years honors program and academic scholarships typically fall fairly even form what I understand.
At least as many girls as boys. it would just be nice to know a ball park. The application process was an incredible shambles when my first kid was admitted (didn’t attend).

Thank you @ThatOneEngineer , that’s very helpful. It seems like they want a strong math SAT score, so I wasn’t sure if just being within the range of the Common Data Set was enough.

Hello, thank you for offering your help. I’m currently researching colleges and I’m interested in Colorado School of Mines and have a couple of questions:

  1. How supportive is the environment toward introverts?
  2. Is it more preferable to take SAT or the ACT?
  3. Would you recommend applying for this college if you are a hardworking student who is above average, but not one of the brilliant students?

DD and I are coming to Mines in October on an Official Visit. What would you recommend as far as things to take in to get a feel for Golden? Any things on Campus that you really recommend a potential student see or visit that might not be on the regular tour? Your input is greatly appreciated!


  1. As a fellow introvert, I feel your concern. Because Mines is such a specialized-engineering campus, we have a ton of introverts and because of that more than a few clubs and activities are panned around this fact. Clubs and departments literally plan that 70% of campus is an introvert so they make sure the environment is very welcoming. I have rarely felt like I was thrust into a situation where you needed to be an extrovert to enjoy.

  2. Honestly, I don’t think there is a preference. Just make sure that your math and reading scores are high. Those are the ones Mines prioritizes.

  3. If anything, this will put you ahead of most students at Mines. A ton of “brilliant” kids come from high school never having worked for a grade and are thrown into Mines without the proper tools to study. If you have already been working hard, it won’t be anything new and you’ll blend in very well.


I’m so glad you’re coming to visit Mines!

Aside from things around campus you won’t see in the tour is a lot of the end of campus by Clear Creek. This includes the Geology Museum (free entry with some really cool rocks!) and the athletic complex which is really impressive. I don’t know if you’ll be able to get in if there isn’t a game, but if there is a game while you’re there, I’d definitely check it out! We do also have some amazing hiking trails not even ten minutes walking from campus, but knowing Colorado weather, it might be too cold for that.

I’ll also share this link with you. It’s the parent/family weekend page for visiting families of current students, but you should be able to get more ideas of the amount of things there is to do around Golden!

Hope this helps!

@txsparty You’ve got to go to the Sherpa House restaurant. It’s amazing.