How to Write the Colorado College Supplement

Colorado College is a private liberal arts college in Colorado Springs, CO. The undergraduate population is comprised of about 2,100 students. One of the most unique things about Colorado College is the Block scheduling system. Instead of the typical college schedule where you take 3-5 courses per semester or quarter, you take 1 class at a time. You attend class every day M-F from 9am-12pm for 3.5 weeks. Students then have a long weekend and begin a new class the next Monday. This repeats 4x per semester, and there are two semesters per year. We break down their supplement below:

How did you learn about Colorado College and why do you wish to attend? (no more than 500 words)

The way that Colorado College phrases this question makes it seem like it is a “Why X School?” question, which it is, but it has a bit of a twist. They want to know why you want to attend, yes, but they also want to know HOW you learned about it. You have 500 words, so they’re asking you to tell them a story.

We start stories with a personal experience. So that is where you’d start for this story as well. The checklist for your story must be:

  • A topic that hasn’t yet been explored in your application
  • A personal story that reflects a new side of yourself
  • BUT, not a story that reflects a side of yourself or a topic that is completely out of left field

Your application should be continuous. Your background, goals, and interests are listed throughout your application (just once!) because the entire application as a package is being submitted. Your essays, test scores, extracurriculars, the list goes on...all together, they tell a story. This story, your Colorado College supplement, should be a part of that larger narrative. It should be new information, but it shouldn’t stand out in the context of your application.

The rule of thumb here is to start with an interest, and then incorporate the school from there. There isn’t an obvious way to address the “how,” because you likely didn’t come across Colorado College in some sort of a magical way. Unless you have an incredibly story, we’d suggest starting with the “why.” Talk about your interest(s), give some context to them, and discuss how you plan to pursue those interests at Colorado College. Discuss why Colorado College is particularly unique in having the resources/offering the class/employing the professor/funding the extracurricular program that interests you.  

We had an engineering and computer science student tell a story from her childhood about how she became interested in computer science—then from there, she delved into the unique computer science opportunities that she’d want to get involved in at the college. Your interests come first, and the college is a vehicle for expanding your interests. The essay itself was interesting and fun to read because there was a beginning, a middle, and an end. Ultimately, you’re trying to draw your admissions reader in with your language. You want them to envision you on the campus, in the classroom, and contributing meaningfully to the community.

The Block Plan at Colorado College has a tradition of innovation and flexibility. Please design your own three-and-a-half week course and describe what you would do. (no more than 500 words)

This is one of our favorite supplement questions. The great thing about this question is that you can get ultra-specific and creative.

Here are the rules:

  1. Don’t create a course that directly mirrors something you’ve already done. It’s already on your application. It’s done.  
  2. Search, search more, and search again to make sure that Colorado College does not offer anything remotely like this course.
  3. There needs to be a title, a course description, and a list of required readings. It should reflect what it would look like in the college handbook.

We suggest that you start with a problem, and then work backwards. Decide on a problem you want to solve and go from there. Social issues are a great way to start, but that shouldn’t limit you. Notice that they use the word “innovation.” This means that they are solution-oriented. This can mean inefficiencies, big or small. The course should aim to understand the problem as well as dive into the history of and various solutions to the problem. The best supplements are the ones that solve problems that the student is passionate about in a genuine way.

How to find a genuine passion? Think about books, courses, and projects that you’ve worked your way through that were solely based on your interests. What are you so fascinated in that you routinely find yourself hitting “Play” on YouTube video #31 on the topic at 12:04AM. What is so worth your time and brain energy that it doesn’t even feel exhausting—it feels like you’re fueling your spirit the more than you understand this topic. Once you’ve determined a topic, you should take a look at the 300/400/500 level courses at the college to understand the structure of a course and how specific the classes get. At that point, it’s no more “Western Political Tradition.” The classes are more like, “The Cuban Revolution” and “Intervention, the Drug War and Human Migration: The U.S.-Latin American Relationship.” They’re not asking you to design a survey course here.

One example that we came up with is:

Fascination topic: Uber’s rise

Sub-topics: Artificial intelligence, economics, independent contractors, employment, technology, U.S. job market

Name of the class: What Will Robots Do Once They’re Uber Drivers: An Exploration of A.I.’s Impact On The Job Market

From there, you’ll write up a brief class description and offer a couple of required texts. Remember, the course is only 3.5 weeks long so you don’t have time to consume a lot of information. Keep it intentional and well thought out.

Let us know if you need any help at all. We know this one is more challenging, but that just means it’s an opportunity to stand out. We’d be happy to help you create an amazing supplement to Colorado College.