The College Consensus ranking of the Best Colleges in Colorado combines the results of the most respected college ranking systems with the averaged ratings of thousands of real student reviews from around the web to create a unique college meta-ranking. This approach offers a comprehensive and holistic perspective missing from other college rankings. Visit our about page for information on which rankings and review sites were included in this year’s consensus rankings.
The Best Colleges & Universities in Colorado category is limited to schools in Colorado. Schools that did not qualify for a Consensus Score were ranked by their Student Review score.
Wondering how to pay for your Colorado college degree? Check out our list of the Top Colorado Scholarships. If you’re interested in online learning in Colorado, our ranking of the Best Online Colleges in Colorado is a great resource.
The Best Colleges in Colorado: Scaling the Heights
Today, Colorado may call to mind extreme sports and the REI lifestyle – the outdoor adventure capital of the United States – but it wasn’t always that way. Settlers didn’t come to the rugged Rocky Mountains for kayaking and mountain biking; they came for the natural resources. The Colorado economy was built on natural resources, from mining to oil to uranium, and today Colorado colleges and universities continue to be dominant on a national and international scale in research and teaching in areas like Petroleum Engineering, Forestry, Sustainability, and Alternative Energy. Agriculture, especially livestock like cattle and sheep, was a mainstay from the earliest settlers, and students still come to Colorado’s research universities for study in Veterinary Science, Agricultural Science, and related fields.
As a centrally-located state, Colorado was also a major thoroughfare for trade and transportation, leading to the growth of major industry and business and turning Denver from a hardscrabble mining colony to a major metropolitan city. From the earliest days of the Colorado Territory, the region attracted intrepid entrepreneurs who wanted to make money and we’re afraid to risk it all (literally, for many of those early settlers). On that foundation of do-or-die business, since the turn of the 21st century, Colorado has also been the center of a tech boom that has turned Denver, Boulder, Fort Collins, and other cities into a Rocky Mountain Silicon Valley and given Colorado a whole new cool cache – not to mention a lucrative tech job market. For that purpose, Colorado’s exceptional public and private research universities, like the Colorado School of Mines, the University of Denver, and CU Boulder, have focused on the intersection between business and tech.
The spirit of Colorado is also one of experiment and innovation, so Colorado has also developed a reputation not only for discoveries in STEM, but for unusual and creative teaching and learning methods, especially in its smaller liberal arts colleges and professional schools. Programs like Colorado College’s unique block format – in which students take one intensive class at a time, rather than several classes spread out over a semester – and Regis College’s many service learning programs, encourage students and faculty to think differently about what college can be. The best colleges in Colorado are devoted to the needs of students, but they’re also devoted to service, and across the board, from small colleges to the major research universities, community engagement is central to Colorado’s higher education mission.
What’s Next for Colorado’s Best Colleges?
The best colleges in Colorado will continue to lead the way in higher education by focusing on service. Colorado already has some of the most environmentally-conscious colleges and universities, schools that are doing their best to make college life sustainable, low-impact, and small-footprint. Many of the initiatives in the Rocky Mountains can provide a model for other universities and colleges. As Colorado continues to grow in population (more than 10% since the last census in 2010), the dedication that the best colleges in Colorado show to their people is going to be the real test. Many of Colorado’s best colleges are known for their community engagement and service, and providing opportunity for all those new residents will be the higher education system’s biggest challenge. But Colorado has been a challenge from the very beginning – Coloradans like nothing better.
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