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What's a Block?

By Taylor Fry ’19

When I was applying to CC, I distinctly remember scrolling down and reading the “Design your Own Block” part of the application.

What the – a block? Like a building block? Do I pick wood or brick or cement… is this a trick question? Clearly, I needed to do my research on the Block Plan - and maybe you do too.

If you’re curious or need clarification, you’ve come to the right place! Let me try to explain – “What on earth is a ‘block’?”

 At a holiday party, home for Fall Break, my friend asks me how many classes I’m taking this semester.

“Well,” I say, “I’m only taking one.”

She stops chewing her food. “You’re only taking one class this semester? How?”

If you end up choosing Colorado College, you’re going to have to have this type of conversation often.

I explain that at CC, instead of taking 4+ classes at the same time, we just focus on one.

“How does that work?” she asks.

“We still take four classes a semester – just a different one every three-and-a-half weeks.”

“So does everyone has class at the same time?”

“Yeah, pretty much. Typically, classes are from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Monday through Friday. If you’re in a class that requires lab, usually your class will meet again in the afternoon.”

 “That sounds nice, actually. But do you ever get bored?”

“No! It gives you time to develop relationships with other students and your professors. It also gives us so much freedom. I just took this outdoor journalism class and we went to Santa Fe for a week and toured Outside magazine and talked to a ton of authors and journalists. I also have a friend who is an Organismal Biology and Ecology major and she went on this week-long camping trip to Arizona and had class there.”

“What? You can do that?”

“Yep!” I say, getting overly excited, “They offer so many blocks abroad too. Some people on my intramural soccer team just got back from France, and soon a bunch of people I know are taking a Block in Belize!”

“You’re kidding…” she stares at me in disbelief. “Is it too late to transfer?”

The Block Plan provides space and time for deep exploration and learning. It forces you to break from the norm, be creative and allows you to explore different passions. You get this unique opportunity to focus on one thing at a time, and in a strange way, this allows you to expand your horizons and be involved in a multitude of different things, on and off campus.

You’ll hear things being discussed around CC like: 

  • “How was your block break?”
  • “When is your sister visiting again? First week of second block?”
  • “I’m so excited for blocks 7 and 8. The weather is perfect and campus is just so fun.”
  • “When is that visiting writer coming to speak? Third Tuesday?”
  • “I can’t wait to go skiing every weekend in blocks 5 and 6!”

Later that break, I answer more questions about the Block Plan.

“What if you’re in a hard class?” One of my Mom’s friends asks.

“Then it’s over in three-and-a-half weeks. And we get a break at the end.”

“Like a long weekend?”

“Yeah, exactly. Wednesday until Sunday!”

“What do you do during that?”

“You can do anything. You could stay on campus or plan a trip with friends. My first Block Break I went to Moab with a bunch of friends and camped. My friend visited her sister in San Francisco, a few people I know explored Colorado. Next Block Break, my friends and I are planning a ski trip!”

“Wow…” he says, bewildered. “When do you have finals?”

“We take them during the fourth week. It’s great because we just have to study for one final. After, we have our Block Break from Wednesday until Sunday. Then our new class starts Monday.”

“This place doesn’t sound real,” he says, his mouth half open. “I definitely didn’t do all that my first year in college.” 

“I bet!” I say with a knowing smile. “If I’ve learned anything so far,” I add, “It’s that you can do anything for three-and-a-half weeks… especially if you have four days off in between.” 

So now that you’ve read a little more about the Block Plan, get excited about it. Tell your friends, tell your friends’ dogs, tell those strangers walking down the street. Take a whack at that application and imagine a class that you would want to take if you were here and even what your block breaks could be!

The Block Plan has opened my eyes to a different way of learning. It’s enabled me to step outside my comfort zone, prioritize my schedule and take initiative over my education. Between what I’ve learned, the connections I’ve made and the experiences I’ve had, I couldn’t imagine my collegiate career any other way. 

We hope to see you soon!