There are just over 5,000 undergraduates at the University of Denver, and another 6,000 graduate students, with the law school on the same campus, makes it feel larger. Light rail connects DU with Denver’s downtown and technology center, so the campus is highly accessible via public transit. And students receive an Eco-pass which allows them to use all of Denver’s transit for free.
It’s important to know that DU is on the quarter system, because it’s a faster pace of learning (some students with learning differences do better, some worse on the quarter system). First-year students take a common curriculum which emphasizes writing skills. First and second year students are required to live on campus; some can choose to live in learning communities which offer common themes, such as entrepreneurship, sustainability, international, social justice or wellness. Students in these dorms live and take classes together, go on retreats and hear from speakers who address their interests.
My tour guide, Alisa, was a second year business major, but she told us she was about to change her major to HRTM – Hospitality/Restaurant/Tourism Management, a popular major at DU. Other strong majors include business, management, psychology, communication and journalism, and DU has one of the better opera programs in the country.
DU is also proud of its alumni – you won’t leave campus without being told that ice skating champion Michelle Kwan, former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and former Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton are all alumni.
An already beautiful campus, DU is undergoing expansion, with new dorms and a beautiful new student center, the Community Commons. In addition, they’ve made quite a few enhancements in a variety of areas, including:
- Expansion of Living and Learning Communities (Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Environmental Sustainability, International, Social Justice, Wellness)
- Integrated Learning Programs that can be completed in 4 years
- Pioneer Leadership Program (PLP)
- Women’s Leadership Scholars
- Honors Program
- Inclusivity and College Success Programs
- Equity in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (E-STEM)
- Program for first gen students (1GenU)
- Excelling Leaders Institute (ELI)
- Volunteers in Partnership (VIP)
- The JETT Experience
- Collegiate Recovery Community (CRC)
DU is HUGE on study abroad; more than 70% of students study abroad at some point, and they have programs for which the cost is exactly the same as the college’s costs (with financial aid/merit aid following the student to the study abroad program). DU also prides itself on the fact that most of their students have a major and at least one (often more than one) minor—interdisciplinary learning is important to them.
DU is well known for how well it accommodates students with disabilities/learning differences, etc. They have two programs: DSP (Disability Services Program) and LEP (Learning Effectiveness Program). I met with Michele McCandless from DSP to learn more about the differences. DSP is free to all students who have documented differences that require accommodations—they work with students to ensure that they are getting their accommodations as needed/required. LEP is an additional cost program where students work 1 on 1 with a coach/tutor who helps them work on many aspects of college life (cost is about $1350/quarter). Michele described it using the metaphor of a cupcake. DSP provides a complete cupcake, but LEP adds the sprinkles, chocolate chips, etc.
The average class size is 21 students; 95% of classes have fewer than 50 students.
DU admissions officers say the University is looking for three things that make a successful DU student: motivation to learn, concern with honesty and integrity and openness to new ideas. Starting with the Class of 2020, DU has been, and will remain, test optional. That means they’re looking even more at your high school transcript – both your grades and your course selection. For the Class of 2019, the average incoming freshman GPA was 3.76 (unweighted). For transfer students, a 3.0 college GPA is competitive for admission and merit consideration. DU has expanded merit awards for both first year and transfer students. First year awards range from 17k-29k, and transfer awards from 16k-20k.
[P.S. in case you are wondering, yes, it’s the University of Denver, and they call themselves DU and not UD. And no one can tell you why. We asked.]