College president visits Edwards
Cost per credit hour
Colorado Mountain College in-district: $57
Colorado Mountain College bachelors degrees: $99
Other Colorado 4-year schools: $160
Colorado State University: $249
University of Colorado: $292
Private Colorado colleges: $1,203
Source: Collegeincolorado.org. Data based on resident tuition with in-district rate, 15 credits per semester. Based on an average of public four-year colleges in Colorado, including Adams State, Colorado Mesa University, Fort Lewis College and Western State.
EDWARDS — Carrie Hauser has this vision in her mind: A 17-year-old kid receives a letter telling him he has been accepted to college, her college.
He didn’t actually apply to college, but his acceptance letter says Colorado Mountain College has a spot for him.
Every high school graduate in one of CMC’s districts is eligible for a spot in the college, Hauser explained. Sending a college acceptance letter is one of the ways CMC’s new president, Carrie Besnette Hauser, Ph.D., would remind local families that the best value in education is right up the street.
Hauser is more new-ish than new.
“When I came on board about 10 months ago, the strategic plan had been underway about how to position the college in the next 50 years,” Hauser said.
David Delaplane founded Colorado Mountain College founder by walking around talking to people and knocking on doors, convincing them to tax themselves for a regional two-year college. They did, and in 1967 CMC started in Leadville and Glenwood Springs.
CMC is now 11 campuses in an area that covers 12,000 square miles and 13 school districts. Each campus is different, but they have this in common.
“Every community embraces their CMC as their own,” said Matt Gianneschi, CMC’s chief operating officer.
Accepting kids to college is one thing, preparing them for college is quite something else. In CMC’s service area, 50 percent need some sort of remedial help, Hauser said. To remedy that, CMC is partnering with school districts to work with kids as early as preschool, and following through to their senior year of high school.
“That’s another big idea we’re pursuing: Can we get kids ready for college? You start with start with preschool, and you help students who are not ready for college get ready during their senior year,” Hauser said.
Degrees by degrees
Hauser and Gianneschi took their show on the road, preaching the virtues of CMC to faculty, staff and regional business leaders. They also listened.
Not so long ago, the Climax molybdenum mine between Copper Mountain and Leadville needed electricians, so CMC imported a program from CMC’s Rifle campus to Breckenridge.
According to the Georgetown University Center, 75 percent of all jobs will require some kind of college or training after high school, so CMC is expanding its certificate programs, Gianneschi said.
You can also earn a four-year college degree at CMC.
In 2008, CMC was trying to convince lawmakers that this part of the state needed some four-year programs because, well, there aren’t any.
“The argument was to allow the people to have this opportunity and give them access,” Gianneschi said.
Some Front Range four-year colleges hollered like they’d been skewered, so the compromise was that the state would not provide additional funding for four-year programs.
In 2009, CMC started adding four-year bachelor’s degrees: business administration, sustainability studies, nursing, teacher education and applied science.
Sticker shock is part of what drives young teachers away, Hauser said. It’s an expensive place to live.
“If we can actually grow our own teachers here, there’s a much higher probability that they’ll stay,” she said.
The sustainability degree is built around integrated systems and how they, well … integrate. Some graduates are working on masters degrees, some are starting businesses, Hauser said.
You can also pick up college credit while taking high school dual-enrollment classes. Four local students earned associates degrees, and graduated college before they graduated high school last spring.
In 2008, the state was limiting those kinds of programs. High school students were allowed only two dual enrollment classes per year and had to pay for them. Across Colorado only about 5,000 did.
All that changed in 2009 when the state loosened the reins. Last year, 30,000 high school students earned college credit.
Colorado is now considered the model nationally, Hauser said.
“It wasn’t that we assumed students would get associates degrees, but we wanted to make it available,” Hauser said. “The only prerequisites are the students’ ability and motivation.”