First Year Students
Every year, Colorado College enrolls an academically accomplished student body that encompasses a wide variety of interests, talents, and backgrounds. Our holistic evaluation process considers your academic work, writing, letters of recommendation, extracurricular activities, your unique talents and personal qualities, and testing — if you choose to submit test scores.
Colorado College is somewhat unique among highly selective colleges in that we choose to support a binding Early Decision program, as well as non-binding Early Action and Regular Action programs, giving students greater flexibility to choose the option that is right for them. This has resulted in a large increase in early applicants and a larger percentage of our class enrolling from an early round. Our percentage of students enrolled through Early Decision — around a third of the class for the fall of 2020 — is consistent with many of our peers.
The following items are required by the decision plan deadline for full consideration by the Admission Committee. Please note that there is no fee to apply to Colorado College.
We accept the Common Application, Coalition Application, or QuestBridge Application. We recommend all students begin by submitting the Preliminary Application. Please read below for descriptions of our accepted applications.
In addition to the required essay(s) for the application of your choice, all applicants will be required to complete one Supplemental Essay for their application to be considered complete. The Supplemental Essay prompt for the Fall 2021 application is as follows:
- Why do you want to join the Colorado College community, and how do you think you will contribute to it? (Maximum 200 words.)
Transcript(s), School Report, & Counselor Evaluation
We require your transcript(s) through the end of your junior year and will eventually require your Mid-Year Report — first semester or trimester of your senior year — and Final Report grades. A counselor letter of recommendation is recommended, but not required.
We require two teacher evaluations — preferably from your junior year. Additional recommendation letters from teachers, supervisors, coaches, and others are encouraged.
Early Decision Agreement
This item is only required for those applying Early Decision to Colorado College. For more about decision plans, please continue to the Decision Plans & Deadlines section on this page.
Financial Aid Application
The Financial Aid application consists of the FAFSA, CSS Profile, and more, and is only required for those applying for financial aid. Please visit our Financial Aid page for more information.
The following are optional for students seeking admission to Colorado College.
Standardized Test Scores
Many students believe their SAT or ACT scores accurately and positively reflect their academic abilities and give a more comprehensive view of achievement and potential. We will continue to evaluate all applicants, including those who choose to submit their test scores, in a holistic manner. We do not use an arbitrary cutoff point for admission consideration, and test scores are not the ultimate deciding factor in our process. The Admission Committee will closely consider applicants’ academic preparation (grades, course selection, course rigor, counselor evaluation, teacher recommendations) as well as the personal statement, supplement responses, and school/community involvement.
There will not be a negative impact on the application evaluation due to the selection of the test-optional policy. For students who opt not to submit testing upon applying, the admission committee will not make any assumptions on that choice, and students will be given equal consideration in our holistic evaluation approach.
Please visit our Test-Optional page for exceptions and more information regarding our testing policy.
We invite students interested in the arts to submit an optional art supplement in visual art, music, dance, theater, creative writing or film. Students may upload media for their art supplement to their Applicant Portal after submitting the Preliminary Application. Students can also indicate whether or not they'd like to submit an art portfolio within their Applicant Portal.
How to Apply
We accept three different applications for first-year students and will review all three with the same holistic standards in place — no one method offers an advantage over the others. Regardless of how you choose to apply, we recommend beginning with the Preliminary Application, which allows us to create your Applicant Portal, notify you of your applicant and financial aid checklists, and counsel you as you complete your application.
We accept the following applications:
The Common Application was created in 1975 by a group of colleges seeking to make the application process easier, and it is accepted by nearly 900 institutions. The Common App offers the following:
- Students enter personal information only once, and the applicable sections of all their Common App will populate.
- An easy way to search and view college options within the application.
- A streamlined process for submitting transcripts, letters of recommendation, and counselor letters.
Colorado College joined the Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success in its inaugural year. Every Coalition institution provides need-based financial aid or low-cost in-state tuition, and has a six-year graduation rate of at least 70 percent. The Coalition Application is accepted by an elite group of public and private US colleges and universities, and offers the following:
- Students enter personal information only once, and the applicable sections of all their Coalition applications will populate.
- A free set of tools and guidance resources for students, counselors, community-based organizations, teachers and other mentors who assist with the college application process.
- A private, online "Locker," where students can collect and organize digital material in preparation for their college search and application process. Only students have access to their own Lockers, but they can share individual items from it with counselors or mentors for feedback and guidance. Students can also choose to attach selected items from the Locker to individual college applications. College admissions officers will not see or have access to any materials in a student Locker other than those included with a college application. Please note that Colorado College staff are not able to pre-review or collaborate on items uploaded to the Locker.
In addition to the Supplemental Essays required of every CC applicant, Coalition applicants will choose three of the following prompts to answer in no more than 75 words each:
- What’s the best mistake you’ve ever made?
- Colorado College values people from diverse backgrounds, communities, and/or identities. Tell us about yours.
- You walk into a classroom and the teacher is absent. There’s a sticky note on the board that says you are the teacher. What are you teaching your peers?
- What piece of culture have you been consuming (e.g. book, film, album, etc.) that you want to tell people about?
- What are you most proud of about yourself or what do you consider your greatest achievement?
- Colorado College is looking for intellectually curious students. What do you do that shows your intellectual curiosity?
- Upload a digital file of your creation from your Coalition locker. Tell us why it is important to you.
Visit Coalition Application for more information, where you can create an account as early as 9th grade.
Since 2013, Colorado College has partnered with QuestBridge — a non-profit organization that matches high-achieving, underserved students with opportunities in higher education. To learn more about this application process, please visit our QuestBridge Application page.
Decision Plans & Deadlines
Students may choose to apply Early Decision (binding), Early Action (non-binding), or Regular Action (non-binding). Early Decision is a binding method of application where the student commits to attend prior to receiving an offer of admission. Early Action and Regular Action are non-binding and students are able to consider their options until the May 1 National Candidate Reply Date.
If applying for financial aid, all documents — including the FAFSA, CSS Profile, and more — must be submitted by the application round you choose. Your application is not considered complete until we receive all necessary financial aid documents. We recommend completing the FAFSA and CSS Profile at least two weeks prior to the corresponding deadline. Please visit our Financial Aid website for more information.
Our first-year application deadlines are:
| Decision Plan
||Deadline||Decision Released||Candidate Reply|
|Early Decision I
|Early Action||November 1||Late-December||May 1|
|Early Decision II
|Regular Action||January 15||Mid-March||May 1|
Alternate Entry Options
Colorado College is unique in that first-year students may consider a variety of entry options when applying. A traditional fall entry is the default consideration for most students under review by the Admission Committee, however, some students may be considered candidates for alternate entry options — especially if an interest has been indicated via an application or form.
Students may be considered for the following entry options:
In a typical year, approximately 50 to 60 admitted students elect to delay the start of their Colorado College education by designing and pursuing a year-long adventure of their own making, or by considering existing options. While there are a multitude of personal reasons students cite for pursuing a gap experience, each tends to point to a quest for experiential learning that isn't found in the confines of a classroom.
Students admitted under our Early Decision, Early Action, or Regular Action programs may submit a gap year request to delay their enrollment for one year. We will approve longer gap terms for purposes of national service or religious mission. Students admitted to the Winter Start Program are not eligible to apply for a gap year.
Visit our Gap Year resources page for more information, including request and approval information, and recommended programs.
Update: due to the uncertainty regarding COVID-19 and the potential for distance learning during the fall semester, we expect more students than typical to request gap years.
Winter Start (Gap Semester)
Nearly every enrollment cycle, approximately 40 to 50 students admitted to our Winter Start program will embark on a personalized semester-long gap experience in the fall semester before reuniting with their classmates in January to enroll in their first block on campus.
Students admitted to our Winter Start program will participate in the Winter Start Orientation (WSO) and will also engage in our First Year Program — designed to prepare students for the rigors of the Block Plan.
Visit our Winter Start resources page for more information, including recommended programs for credit and non-credit options.
Update: due to the uncertainty regarding COVID-19 and the potential for distance learning during the fall semester, we expect more students than typical to request gap semesters.
Fall Semester Away (FSA)
If you are you ready to start at CC in the fall but also want to challenge yourself by partaking in an off-campus experience, you may want to consider our Fall Semester Away option. The selective, semester-long FSA program begins with an on-campus orientation before traveling to England, France, Italy, and Greece to complete the first four blocks of your coursework.
With over 80 percent of CC students choosing to study abroad during their four years, opportunities to learn off-campus — and the experiences had during these opportunities — make a remarkable impact on their college experience.
Visit our FSA page for more information, including the most current program schedule.
Update: In response to the significant travel disruptions and health concerns due to the coronavirus (COVID-19), we have decided to cancel our Fall Semester Away program. See Coronavirus Updates & Resources here.
DACA & Undocumented Students
All applicants to Colorado College — regardless of citizenship — will be considered for admission. DACA and undocumented students are well supported at Colorado College, and although admission to Colorado College is highly competitive, we plan to admit and fund those who compete successfully in our process. We meet full demonstrated need of every admitted student, which in the case of DACA and undocumented students, is accomplished by using private grant aid from the college.
Please note that our current students will receive our continued support, and we are continuously monitoring the federal stance on DACA and undocumented students. For more information about funding and support for DACA and undocumented students in the United States, please visit the NASFAA Tip Sheet for Undocumented Students.
We also encourage students to visit the Butler Center's DACA Resource page to learn more about DACA status and Colorado College. For admission questions regarding DACA and undocumented, please contact Pedro Ramirez in the Office of Admission.
Colorado College enrolls students who will enhance and enjoy the intellectual, social, and extracurricular communities our campus provides. We seek students who are interested in the wide range of rigorous intellectual experiences offered, and value the role that extra-curricular activities, such as music, debate, theater, political action, and athletics, play on campus. In addition, we are committed to racial, ethnic, socio-economic, and geographical diversity.
Colorado College is committed to academic excellence and has established shared recruitment practices to strengthen athletic programs. The Office of Admission partners with the Athletic Department to ensure that students on all intercollegiate teams are representative of our student body and are admitted with the expectation of their full participation in the life of the college. Student-athletes should be aware that we have committed to the following:
- All admission decisions are rendered and delivered in writing by the Admission Office only. Any communication regarding the status of an admission decision conveyed by non-admission personnel, including verbal commitments, should be considered preliminary, unofficial, and subject to change.
- No admission decision, including an Early Decision, will be made until the candidate's application is complete and all necessary supporting documentation has been received (including application, supplement, transcripts, standardized test scores and recommendations).
- By NCAA policy, there are no athletic scholarships awarded in Division III programs. Merit-based scholarship offers and need-based aid packages are made only by the Office of Financial Aid after the student has been admitted. Therefore, we recommend that families use our Net Price Calculator to estimate the cost of attendance prior to being admitted.
While admission decisions are made exclusively by the admission committee, the coach's assessment of the athletic ability and potential contribution of each candidate is considered. Coaches at other colleges may evaluate a student-athlete's ability differently. Positional considerations may also lead to different assessments of an applicant's value to a team.
It is important to remember that this is a college admission process with an athletic component, not an athletic recruiting process that comes with the opportunity to attend college. Our coaches actively identify and recruit student-athletes and act as advocates for them; but no coach at the college has the authority to offer, promise, or otherwise guarantee a spot in the incoming class to any recruited student-athlete.
We encourage interested student-athletes to complete the recruitment form on the respective athletic team webpage in order to begin the pre-review process.