Vail, Aspen, Breckenridge, and Steamboat Springs are known for their breathtaking views and for being playgrounds for adventure seekers. What most people may not know is that these resort towns are also home to four of the ten campuses that make up the Colorado Mountain College. If you dream about being able to spend a morning in the classroom working on a college degree followed by an afternoon on the slopes, then one of the CMC locations might be the perfect fit for you!
Admission to CMC is as easy as a community college, as there are no GPA or standardized test score requirements. It offers dozens of majors, and while most of their majors are for associates degrees, many can have additional coursework added so students can earn a bachelor’s degree. For example, a student could earn an associates degree in Ski & Snowboard Business (I know, right?) and take additional coursework to earn a bachelor of applied science. With in-state tuition at $180/unit, out-of-state tuition at $453, and WUE tuition at $270, students could conceivably pay between $10k-$27k in tuition – total – for a bachelor’s degree.
While being in somewhat remote locations one might think that CMC would lack opportunities for meaningful experience and networking, but this notion could not be further from the truth. Students have opportunities to complete internships at some of the largest resort companies on the planet, including Vail Resorts and Alterra Mountain Company. CMC faculty explained that after graduation business, culinary, and hospitality management students can easily transition into jobs around the globe affiliated with those companies.
I visited two of the CMC campuses, at Steamboat Springs and Breckenridge. The Steamboat campus features an NCAA Division 1 ski team, and for those that just ski or snowboard for fun, the campus has a ski/snowboard repair shop on campus just a short walk from the dorms. One of the few limitations of CMC is that only three of their ten campuses (Steamboat, Leadville and Glenwood Springs) have dorms – the other seven are commuter campuses. They did explain, however, that many of their students overcome this challenge by working at a resort and living in the resort employee housing while attending college. However, this could pose a challenge for students banking on completing their degree in four continuous years.
The Breckenridge campus was also nestled in a beautiful valley surrounded by a mountain playground. I learned about their nutrition, education, outdoor education, and business programs and was impressed with each. I learned that it is not just CMC students that seek the extreme sports lifestyle, but many of the faculty are professors by day and adrenaline junkies by early afternoon. I enjoyed a delicious lunch prepared by culinary students and was impressed to learn about the quality of the program and the terrific outcomes graduates can expect.
One other thing that impressed me about CMC is the high level of faculty commitment to students. All incoming students take a freshman seminar class where their professors get to know them and they get to know their peers. Faculty also meet regularly to discuss the needs of individual students – something I can’t imagine being common at larger universities. It seems that the students at CMC are in good hands.
Colorado Mountain College is accessible to students of all academic abilities, it is affordable, it provides quality education, and gives students opportunities to gain experience to prepare them for life after college. Its beautiful locations are somewhat remote and may not be what all college students are looking for, but they are a haven and a playground for extreme sports enthusiasts. If you are looking for a place to get a college education while pursuing outdoor recreation than the Colorado Mountain College might be the perfect choice for you.
Chris visited two of the Colorado Mountain College campuses, and you can see his photos here.