For the last day of the NASPA exchange the group visited two contrasting institutions: Colorado College, which is a private university, and Pikes Peak Community College, which is akin to a UK further education college.
Colorado College is a private liberal arts college, established in 1874 as a coeducational institution two years before Colorado became a state. It costs $60,000 per year to come here, and 2,500 students do so every year. They teach on a unique block plan (details here: www.coloradocollege.edu/basics/blockplan).
They also have half blocks where students attend non-credit bearing courses. A lot of these are run in conjunction with Student Affairs and Faculty. Orientation lasts one week, but for three days of that student go off campus into the wilderness, led by third year students. This is all about developing communication, relationships and leadership skills. The team were told that each new student comes back from these trips with nine best friends and two mentors as the groups bond.
Developing leadership skills is a critical part of the Colorado College ethos. They run an outdoor education programme that students undertake, and once trained lead other students. Students have to self-assess, are peer assessed and then are assessed by their instructor. It’s designed to develop character skills, problem solving and critical thinking.
Wellbeing, diversity and community are also taught in the half blocks, and student are trained to deliver these programmes. A good example is this: www.coloradocollege.edu/offices/sarp/programming/being-a-badass-active-bystander.dot.
Pikes Peak is a very different institution, offering lots of vocational and technical programmes. They work closely with UCCS in transferring students to university and are able to adapt to offer the courses required to meet the skill set that local businesses require.
Colorado Springs is one of only two places in the USA to have a US airforce academy, community college, state funded university and a private university.
Pikes Peak runs orientation daily through the summer with the focus on ‘what do you need to know to be able to stay in college?’ The team were only at Pikes Peak for less than two hours, but heard how they use different teams to work together to stimulate new ideas and provide seamless support.
It has been a very busy week but the exchange team’s hosts have all been fantastic in giving up their time and sharing their wisdom. Now they all need a few days to catch up on some sleep and reflect on what they’ve experienced. The team will be discussing the relevant points at ALL CHANGE, the AMOSSHE conference.
Thanks to AMOSSHE and NASPA for organising, and a huge thanks to all the people who gave up their time at the host institutions. Thanks to Colorado State University, Colorado University Boulder, Metropolitan State University, Colorado University Denver, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, Colorado College and Pikes Peak Community College.
It was an inspiring trip, and the team feel that they have grown hugely both professionally and personally as a result.