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The University of Colorado - Boulder

How this student rated the school
Educational QualityA Faculty AccessibilityA-
Useful SchoolworkA- Excess CompetitionA
Academic SuccessA Creativity/ InnovationB+
Individual ValueA University Resource UseB-
Campus Aesthetics/ BeautyA FriendlinessA
Campus MaintenanceB+ Social LifeA-
Surrounding CityB+ Extra CurricularsB+
Describes the student body as:
Friendly, Approachable, Closeminded

Describes the faculty as:
Friendly, Helpful

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Quite Bright
Lowest Rating
University Resource Use
Highest Rating
Educational Quality
She cares more about University Resource Use than the average student.
Date: Jul 11 2016
Major: Linguistics (This Major's Salary over time)
I used this website three years ago when deciding where to go to school, and I was initially warned away from CU by all the negative reviews here. However, CU offered me a scholarship I couldn't refuse, so I went, utterly wary. I confess that freshman year was very bumpy - it was my first time being away from a very tight-knit family, and everybody shows up expecting to be able to party and get away with not doing work, which was far from the culture I wanted. I know a lot of people who left after their first semester, either because they couldn't pay for it or because they couldn't keep up their grades.

However. Once I got past freshman year, things got loads better. One of the key things that got me going was moving beyond my part-time jobs to take on extracurriculars. Depending on the club, some (Model UN) are more cliquey than others (CU GOLD), but nearly all of them have a service component and get you in contact with people across campus. Another thing that helped me was talking to my professors and TAs. I rarely had the time to attend office hours because of my jobs, but even an email or staying a few minutes after class gets you noticed, especially among the TAs who are great resources but go underappreciated. If you're careful and persistent, you can make a niche for yourself at this university - and, while plenty of people like to talk about their weekends drinking, nobody is going to blame you for saying you worked a shift and did homework.

The academic rigor of the courses really depends on what you put into it. I had classmates who would do homework during class or neglect it, but I had considerably more classmates who would hold study sessions and form homework groups. I'd recommend finding some people to sit with in each of your classes (remember, in college where you sit for the first few classes becomes your assigned seat) and offering to study with them around midterms. Professors are also very available for questions, but the group study helps a lot.

CU's extra resources - study abroad, counseling and psych, career services - are all top-notch and very understanding, and you can't talk to them early enough. People will complain about CU hiking up tuition rates to fund the higher-ups, and that's true and a problem to be addressed (I can't quite forgive the buffalo-shaped pool at the rec center), but a good portion trickles down to all of these great resources.

And, since I'm a shameless International Affairs and Linguistics major: study abroad! Not only does CU have great support and facilities for it, it helped me reinvigorate my academic life in my junior year. I came back with an idea for an honors thesis that the International Affairs department latched onto, and with credits enough to let me declare a double major. The entire staff was highly accessible by email throughout my stay abroad, and they helped with all the credits and applications, so I arrived back with a thesis idea, a part-time job teaching astronomy, and a newly declared second major and minor.

Obviously, everyone's experience at CU is going to be difficult. But if you're passionate about a lot of subjects, you can't beat CU for miles around. We had a hand in constructing Hubble, our bio research draws students from around the country, and there are chances everywhere to find work, join clubs, and make friends even beyond the Greek life everyone likes to talk about on this site.

A few random notes:

  • Attend the Conference of World Affairs at least once; it happens yearly and has all kinds of speakers from around the world, happening right in between your classes.
  • This school isn't as 4-20 friendly as it used to be, since they basically shut down the campus now.
  • The business and engineering students can get a little cliquey, but only because their coursework is so highly specialized. Approach them with curiosity about their studies, or else talk about something that's not school.
  • One of the best things I did for myself in freshman year was to volunteer to teach English to on-campus employees. It's a good chance to practice your Spanish or Chinese, and even if you only speak English, you can make a friend! (Not to mention it's a great resume booster…)
  • Libby has the best breakfast, Sewall has the best pizza and soup, Farrand grab-n-go has the best burgers (if you have half an hour to wait for them), and the C4C has the best everything else.
  • If you have a chance to join the honors dorm, take it. Some of my closest college friends came from my nights going out with the honors kids, and most of my recommendations come from honors professors because the classes are smaller and they get to know you better.
  • CU boasts that it meets so much of its students' need, but for in-state students living expenses will cost even more than tuition, and almost nobody has that covered by CU. This is because the city of Boulder has bought the land surrounding the city (so you can't build outward) and imposed height restrictions (so you can't build upward) and laws that forbid more than three unrelated people from living together. I'm so sorry.
  • If you take a class in the sciences (and I can guarantee you'll have to), you're likely to have a class with not only a professor and TAs, but also at least one learning assistant (LA). An LA is an undergraduate who either has taken that class or is majoring in that topic, and they're fantastic people to approach with questions if you feel nervous talking to the professor or the TA.
  • One of the best places to study is the ALTEC language library in Hellems, right by the UMC. Cleanest computers on campus, and so quiet.
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    The University of Colorado - Boulder
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