Dear President Jill Tiefenthaler,
Today I received my first letter from you as an alumna. It was a heartfelt note asking for my financial support to help make possible the experience I had at Colorado College for new and future students. My time at CC was indeed incredible, and I have immense gratitude for all I experienced and learned over the last four years. It has always been my intention, since the day I received my letter from the financial aid office, to give back to CC throughout my life, in whatever amount I could. However, in my last months at CC, as I watched the selection of a new batch of CC students and learned more about the factors that determine the young people who make up each new incoming class, my faith in CC’s ability to truly use my contributions to make this incredible experience available to bright and deserving students faltered. Financial aid at Colorado College is committed to making attendance affordable for all admitted students, but what is rarely talked about is how a prospective student’s family income dramatically impacts their chance of being admitted. In order for Colorado College to continue to be a leading academic institution, attracting a diverse group of bright young people, we must adopt a need-blind admission policy.
I remember so clearly the day I received my acceptance letter from CC. I had almost not applied, knowing that my single mother’s income would not come close to matching the yearly tuition. When I opened the accompanying letter from the office of financial aid, I could hardly believe what I saw. My mom and I had tears of joy streaming down our faces as we called the financial aid office to check that it was really true. My mind and heart came alive at CC. I loved my classes and my professors. I loved the block plan and the long hours of discussion, reading and writing. I loved being an RA and the thriving spiritual life community. It felt like my hard work and determination in high school was being rewarded through this incredible opportunity, and I felt assured that other bright and motivated students without adequate financial means were also being admitted.
During my senior year, my younger brother applied to CC. Having visited me many times over the last three years he was already a fan of the campus and environment. He had sat in on classes and even jammed with the bluegrass ensemble. My brother graduated from high school with an outstanding GPA of 4.08. He was an involved student, lead guitarist of his own band, and volunteered in town with an organization promoting local music. All of my friends at CC felt he was sure to be admitted. “CC loves legacies!” they told me. Even without the legacy
connection, my brother seemed like an obvious choice for the incoming class of 2017. His grades and academic qualifications were equal to mine when I applied and I knew his passion for music and his insightful and friendly demeanor would add so much to the CC community. When I received the tearful call from my brother explaining that he had not been accepted, I was shocked. Everyone was shocked.
At first it seemed like there must have been a mistake. I reached out to professors and mentors at CC for an explanation. What I learned was that because CC is not need-blind, some of the most intelligent, qualified and diverse students are often rejected and excluded from our community because their particular family background does not place them in the extremely privileged sliver of the country’s population that can afford to pay full price. The result of our admission policy is that students who require any amount of financial aid face a far more competitive and selective admissions process, and many deserving students who would add so much to our community are ultimately rejected. I felt stuck having to explain to my family why the institution I loved had rejected an incredibly qualified student seemingly without reason. In my last few months on campus, I struggled with the reality of belonging to a community whose decisions and policies I do not agree with.
In my family, CC had the chance to create a legacy of lifelong donors, a family who felt genuine gratitude for the opportunity made possible for them. Instead I left CC in May with a mix of emotions. I do feel gratitude for my time at CC, but my sense of pride has been diminished. I have spoken with my professors about this issue, and they all agree that what would be best for the institution’s credibility and academic environment in the long run would be to adopt a need-blind admissions policy.
Included please find my small financial contribution to Colorado College’s future. As the years progress, I will continue to give what I can out of gratitude for the professors, chaplains, employers, friends and of course financial aid that made my incredible last four years possible. I hope that in the future I will also feel a sense of pride and assurance when I give to CC that a need-blind admission policy is ensuring my contribution is building the best CC possible, one amazing student at a time.
Class of 2013