Published: June 13, 2019 By

Counselors and administrators from rural high schools across Colorado arrived at the CU Boulder campus Wednesday as part of a four-day program designed to increase enrollment of underrepresented students.

Colorado FIRST: College Tour for Rural High School Counselors is a program offered by the CU Boulder Office of Admissions, in collaboration with the Denver and Colorado Springs campuses.

High schools counselors at CU Boulder

Rural high school counselors visit CU Boulder campus. (Image credits: Casey Cass/CU Boulder) 

Counselors visited the schools to learn about the unique academic opportunities, funding resources and student support services offered by each campus.

Karen Ganss, assistant director of the Access Recruitment Team at CU Boulder, sees the program as an opportunity to make CU Boulder more accessible to high school students across the state.  

“In smaller, tight-knit communities, students tend to have strong connections to educators at their high school,” said Ganss. “Yet may not have the ability to travel far distances to visit college campuses across Colorado.” 

To address this, the Office of Admissions seeks to educate counselors on the benefits and accessibility of a CU education, so they can communicate those benefits to their students. 

Students from rural communities make up just 5% of undergraduate students enrolled at CU Boulder, 5% at CU Denver and 7.7% at UCCS.

“We know that students from smaller towns across Colorado tend to graduate high school at very high rates, yet enroll in college at much lower rates than their urban peers,” said Ganss. “It is our mission as an institution to serve the entire state, and this absolutely includes our smaller communities.”

Counselors began their tour in Colorado Springs on Monday and completed the program in Boulder Thursday. 

During their Boulder visit, counselors had the opportunity to talk with current students from rural towns across Colorado and learn about ongoing outreach programs and initiatives from David Meens, director of the Office for Outreach and Engagement. 

Beyond this year, Ganss hopes to continue the Rural Counselor Tour each summer. 

“The admissions offices are working diligently to ensure rural students are part of the conversation when it comes to access to college,” said Ganss.