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College Admissions: Best Ski + Snowboard Colleges in the West

Monday, January 21, 2013

 

Going to the right college out West can set you up for 4 glorious ski seasons. Check out these options.

Last week, we focused on the best ski and snowboarding colleges in the East. This week, we head out west to tackle even bigger mountains and deeper powder. Keeping in mind that our criteria includes colleges that have big mountain slopes within an hour and a culture of skiing/boarding present on campus, here are our suggestions for the Best Western Ski Colleges.

Rocky Mountain High in Colorado

University of Colorado at Boulder: the picture book town of Boulder is home to the main campus of the University of Colorado. With more than 25,000 students, this campus is not for the faint of heart or wall flowers, but it is a ski lover’s paradise with plenty of terrain nearby and great student lift discounts. Academically, the university is home to a strong business school and an usually wide array of majors, including Aerospace Engineering.

If you prefer a smaller, liberal arts college, then Colorado College in the sprawling city of Colorado Springs may be for you. This elite college rivals its eastern competitors like Colby, Bates, Middlebury and Bowdoin. Students study one course at a time on the “block plan” and then have breaks in-between courses to pursue their passions. Many take this time to ski at one of the many great Colorado ski resorts or hike in the warmer weather. Be prepared though, Colorado College is very selective, and slackers need not apply. This is a college for the high-achieving skier.

The University of Denver is a medium size school that bridges the gap between the larger Boulder and smaller Colorado Springs options. It sits in a funky neighborhood in Denver and has strong business and music programs, as well as a great biology department for aspiring pre-med students. Boarders enjoy all the big city has to offer during the week and then head to the slopes on the weekends.

Utah Bliss

The University of Utah--set in Salt Lake City offers proximity to the slopes that is hard to beat anywhere else in the country. At the base of the Wasatch Mountains, this campus of 20,000 students is one of the more liberal in Utah. That being said, it is a largely Mormon area and just 13% of students live on campus, so it is more of a commuter school. Business, Psychology and Dance programs are among the strongest here, but those are just a few of the more than 100 majors offered. Acceptance rates are very reasonable, as are costs for out-of-state students at around $35,000 per year.

Westminster College offers a smaller option in Salt Lake City. With just 2,500 students, the culture does revolve around skiing and many would categorize the vast majority of students as “ski bums”. Health sciences, social sciences and business are popular majors, and students are able to enjoy the benefits of small classes and easy professor access.

Big Sky Montana

Our list of Western ski colleges would not be complete without at least one great option in the ski mecca of Montana. Bozeman is home to Montana State with about 12,000 undergrads and approximately 83” of snow each year. Bridger Bowl is very close to campus and Big Sky is just 45 minutes away. The MSU Ski Team rivals their competitors from CU Boulder for NCAA wins, and in Montana, skiing IS considered a spectator sport when there are races, no matter what the weather.

Skiing and snowboarding out west offer many benefits over the east—deeper powder, warmer temperatures and cheaper lift tickets. Some colleges also represent a bargain over their eastern competitors for tuition and living expenses, but campuses can be difficult for eastern students to access and travel can be costly. Nevertheless, western ski college kids will tell you that the powder out west justifies the long trip. The truth is that for students who want to ski or snowboard and get a great education, options exist in both the east and west to study and hit the slopes.

Cristiana Quinn, M.Ed. is the founder of College Admission Advisors, LLC which provides strategic, college counseling and athletic recruiting services for students. www.collegeadvisorsonline.com.

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