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Top Colorado Colleges

8 of the Top Colleges in Colorado

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If you want to go to a great college with ready access to world-class skiing, climbing, hiking, fishing, kayaking and other outdoor activities, Colorado is worth a close look. My top picks for the state range in size from 1,500 students to over 30,000, and the admissions standards vary greatly. The list includes public and private institutions, a Catholic university, a career-focused school, and a military academy. My criteria for selecting Colorado's top colleges include retention rates, four- and six-year graduation rates, value, student engagement, and notable curricular strengths. I have listed the schools alphabetically rather than forcing them into any kind of artificial ranking; these eight schools vary so much in mission and personality that any distinctions in rank would be dubious at best.

Compare Colorado Colleges: SAT Scores | ACT Scores

Air Force Academy (USAFA)

United States Air Force Academy
GretchenKoenig / Flickr
  • Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado
  • Enrollment: 4,620 (all undergraduate)
  • Type of Institution: military academy
  • Distinctions: highly selective admissions; free, high quality education; five-year active service requirement after graduation; applicants need to be nominated by a member of Congress; member of the NCAA Division I Mountain West Conference
  • For acceptance rate, test scores, costs and other information, visit the Air Force Academy profile

Colorado College

Colorado College Science Center
Greverod / Wikimedia Commons
  • Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado
  • Enrollment: 2,091 (2,065 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: private liberal arts college
  • Distinctions: chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for strengths in the liberal arts and sciences; 10 to 1 student / faculty ratio; highly ranked liberal arts college; unusual one-class-at-a-time schedule with three-and-a-half week semesters
  • For acceptance rate, test scores, costs and other information, visit the Colorado College profile

Colorado School of Mines

Colorado School of Mines
rkimpeljr / Flickr
  • Location: Golden, Colorado
  • Enrollment: 5,287 (3,786 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: public engineering school
  • Distinctions: 14 to 1 student / faculty ratio; strong focus on the earth's resources -- minerals, materials, and energy; some of the country's highest starting salaries for graduates; Division II athletics
  • For acceptance rate, test scores, costs and other information, visit the Colorado School of Mines profile

Colorado State University - Fort Collins

Colorado State University
ecopolitologist / Flickr
  • Location: Fort Collins, Colorado
  • Enrollment: 30,155 (22,831 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: public university
  • Distinctions: chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for strengths in the liberal arts and sciences; 17 to 1 student / faculty ratio; Honors Program to challenge high-achieving students; students from all 50 states and 85 countries; member of the NCAA Division I Mountain West Conference
  • For acceptance rate, test scores, costs and other information, visit the Colorado State University profile

Johnson & Wales University-Denver

Johnson & Wales University in Denver
Jeffrey Beall / Flickr
  • Location: Denver, Colorado
  • Enrollment: 1,532 (all undergraduate)
  • Type of Institution: specialized career-centered university
  • Distinctions: schools of business, hospitality and culinary arts; students from 49 states and 9 countries; strong emphasis on real-life experiences and hands-on learning; classes in a student's major begin the first year; good choice for students with clear career goals
  • For acceptance rate, test scores, costs and other information, visit the Johnson & Wales University profile

Regis University

Regis University
Jeffrey Beall / Flickr
  • Location: Denver, Colorado
  • Enrollment: 11,069 (5,594 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: private Catholic university
  • Distinctions: 13 to 1 student / faculty ratio; strong institutional emphasis on community service; popular programs in business and nursing; NCAA Division II athletic programs
  • For acceptance rate, test scores, costs and other information, visit the Regis University profile

University of Colorado at Boulder

University of Colorado at Boulder
Aidan M. Gray / Flickr

University of Denver (DU)

DU, University of Denver
CW221 / Wikimedia Commons
  • Location: Denver, Colorado
  • Enrollment: 11,842 (5,455 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: private university
  • Distinctions: 12 to 1 student / faculty ratio; chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for strong liberal arts and sciences; strong pre-professional programs; popular business programs; member of the NCAA Division I Sun Belt Conference
  • For acceptance rate, test scores, costs and other information, visit the University of Denver profile
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