Recommendation 2: Build Nationally Recognized Summer and Half-Block Programs
Summer & Half-Block Initiatives:
Two of our most distinctive assets are the Block Plan and our one-of-a-kind place of learning in the Colorado Rockies. Doing more to capitalize on both of these tremendous resources will offer new opportunities to our students and extend our reach to new constituencies. By redesigning our summer and January half-block programs for a new era of learners, we will increase flexibility for both faculty and students in support of our mission, provide new revenue, and enhance one of the best liberal arts experiences in the U.S.
Faculty members at Colorado College are experts at teaching focused, immersive courses in 3.5 weeks. Colorado is a beautiful place to learn and live in the summer and provides a plethora of opportunities for outdoor adventure. To take full advantage of these strengths, we will create one of the premier summer learning experiences in the U.S. Our summer program will not just offer random courses. Instead, we will create summer programs of linked thematic blocks that will attract our own students as well as students from other institutions across the country and the world.
These linked summer blocks will be organized around themes such as film, arts, pre-med, sports, foreign languages, environmental education, and geology. Students will learn more than just high-level academics — they will get hands-on experience with internships and meet active professionals face-to-face. For example, a summer program on film might involve taking a couple of filmmaking classes for credit, producing a short film, and talking with alumni about their work in the movie or TV industry. A pre-med summer block program might involve taking courses in basic sciences and math, working in hospitals through internships, and receiving career support directly from medical professionals.
A liberal education paired with strong career development is the new gold standard for educating tomorrow’s leaders.
We expect to see several benefits for current faculty and students. Some faculty prefer to teach in the summer to take advantage of opportunities in the field, for example, in biology, geology, environmental studies, or other courses that include significant outdoor work in the Rockies. Teaching responsibilities could be spread across the year, allowing more flexibility in class scheduling. The summer program will also offer new, exciting opportunities and flexibility to current students, leading to more students on campus year-round and making better use of facilities and other resources throughout the year. We also foresee attracting students from other universities, both domestic and international, who are interested in spending an adventurous summer in the Colorado Rockies.
As we redesign our summer blocks, so too will we use half blocks more effectively. A liberal arts education is more relevant today than ever before for preparing students for work and life. Young people today need to know how to see things from different perspectives and how to collaborate and communicate expertly. The best way to prepare students for the future — for jobs that don’t yet exist and problems that don’t yet have solutions — is to help them develop nimble minds; comfort with different cultures and ideas; skill at problem solving, writing, and speaking; and the capacity to work through the flood of information that is now available at our fingertips. All these habits of the mind are developed by the liberal arts.
Yet we can do more to help our students to transition from college to the world of work. Our students today are members of the Millennial generation, born between 1982 and 2000. In many ways they are further away from the world of work than any previous generation. Millennials are less likely than previous generations to have held a job as a teenager, and now they face a slowly recovering job market. Surveys also show that Millennials have higher expectations for their future careers than previous generations. To help bridge the gap between their academic and professional years, we must offer them strong career development as part of their overall learning experience at CC.
To better educate our students about their options after college, help them to reflect on and articulate the relevance of their CC experience, and build the practical skills that ease transition to today’s workplace, we will create a dynamic half-block program. New offerings during the nine-day half block in early January will concentrate on what students need to do to prepare for the future in both their academic and professional careers. These short courses and workshops might focus on basic programming code or analytics software, choice of majors, personal finances, or writing workshops on fellowship proposals or resumes. We will also develop half blocks for students returning to campus after study-abroad programs and venture grant experiences that allow them to reflect and build on their meaningful time spent off campus.
Our new summer and half-block programs will engage our alumni, parents, and local community members as teachers/mentors and students. The half-block program offers especially rich opportunities for students, faculty, and others to engage with alumni and the Colorado Springs community. Alumni, parents, staff, and community members are great sources of expertise to teach some of these practical skills courses, or they might enroll in these classes themselves alongside traditional students. For example, veterans and soldiers in transition might find the career courses particularly valuable. To offer our unique immersive learning experience to new constituencies, we will also develop special “block breaks” — short courses for alumni and parents on campus, at Baca, in the field, and around the globe. These block breaks will create new opportunities for alumni and parents to engage in lifelong learning and be intellectually engaged with the college and each other.
- Dynamic Half-Block Programs
- Block Breaks Away for Alumni, Parents, and Friends
- Summer Institutes / Linked Thematic Blocks
- Premier Summer Learning Experiences