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  • Writer's pictureNancy Adis

The University of Denver (DU) with a 4D Focus on Holistic Development

This beautiful urban campus with a unique quarter system, attracts students from afar.  Over 70% of DU students come from outside of Colorado state to study at this private university located 15 minutes from the hustle and bustle of downtown Denver and only an hour’s drive to the mountains. They have over 200 programs of study but the personalization of a 11:1 student-to-faculty ratio and an average class size of 21.  DU is an R1, top-tier research institution which actually has more graduate students than undergrads (approximately 7,500 and 6,000 respectively) providing for many collaborations.

I was very interested to learn about their Four-Dimensional Experience program in which they help students focus on asking tough questions, working collaboratively, and taking risks, in order to make a lasting impact on bettering their communities. The four pillars to focus on include, advancing intellectual growth, pursuing careers and lives of purpose, promoting well-being, and exploring character.

Another shout out is the DU Kennedy Mountain campus which is used for orientation activities and provides lab opportunities for many students in the Life Sciences. I also loved the ten-week academic quarters which have students taking first term finals before Thanksgiving and heading home for the winter break having the satisfaction of a complete term finished.  Many students take the six week break as an opportunity to complete an internship or other experiential learning component. (81% of students complete at least one internship.)

A fun fact that a professor on campus shared with me: The academic quarter system came about when Denver was chosen to host the 1976 Winter Olympics and some of DU buildings were to be athletes’ housing - so the faculty voted to move to a new academic calendar of quarters which would free up the campus for the Olympics.  Later when Colorado voters rejected funding in a statewide referendum and Denver became the first (and only) city awarded the Winter Games to reject them, the DU professors had already seen the benefits of the new quarterly schedule for students, so they have voted to keep this schedule ever since.

For high school students who are looking ahead and learning about college options, now is the time to start getting out on campus tours.  DU has weekday visit opportunities all throughout the spring.  Their admission is competitive, they offer stackable merit scholarships, and recently began offering an additional $5,000 scholarship to all students admitted by Early Decision.

There are many colleges and universities available to students, depending on their interests and career goals.  Confident College Planning can help families uncover a variety of new options you may not have heard of and guide you all throughout the application process.  Contact me at for assistance – I would love to help you on your college planning journey!


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