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Dr. Kat’s List: Five Colleges for Winter Sports

It’s February, and if that isn’t indication enough, the falling temperatures and snowstorms across the country certainly prove that it’s winter here in the United States! While some people may dread the cold weather, a select breed has been patiently anticipating this season for months: skiers and snowboarders. Whether you’re an expert when it comes to alpine sports or a novice looking to learn, if you want to combine a great college education and experience with snowy weather, then you’ll definitely want to consider this list of colleges for skiing and alpine sports compiled by the team of expert counselors at IvyWise.

5 Colleges for Winter Sports

Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH

Nestled in the Upper Valley region of New Hampshire, this Ivy League school has produced nearly 100 All-American skiers and more than 30 national champions. Dartmouth’s Skiway, home to the Dartmouth ski team, is just 20 minutes north of the college. The mountain offers more than 30 trails spanning 100 acres with a summit elevation of 1,934 feet and a vertical drop of 975 feet. Trails range from green circles to black diamonds, accommodating skiers of all skill levels. Novice skiers and snowboarders can even learn from expert instructors at the Dartmouth Skiway Ski and Snowboard School. Students can also participate in the Dartmouth Winter Carnival, a student field day that has become a long-standing college tradition.

Dartmouth’s academics, described as “innovative, interdisciplinary, international, and individualized,” are as rigorous for the mind as the Black Diamond trails are for the body. First-year undergraduate students are required to take writing and rhetoric and are involved in hands-on learning projects, such as study abroad programs or fieldwork projects that foster creative development skills. On campus, students have access to 135 student-run clubs, and if there’s a club that doesn’t exist, the school can provide funding to help students start one.

Middlebury College, Middlebury, VT

Located in the scenic Champlain Valley, this selective liberal arts college is home to the nationally-ranked Middlebury ski team and the school-owned Snow Bowl, one of the first ski areas in Vermont. With 17 trails serviced by top-of-the-line snow machines, the Snow Bowl guarantees exceptional skiing conditions regardless of Mother Nature’s cooperation. Mountain passes and lessons are offered to students at discounted rates throughout the season, and when students need a break from the slopes they can relax in the mountain’s historic lodge. In 2013, Middlebury students will have the exciting opportunity to be spectators at the school-hosted NCAA Skiing Championships.

On the academic side, Middlebury requires students to complete a broad core curriculum that provides “analysis and appreciation of the literary text [and] gives students insight into the minds and lives of other human beings.” MiddKids, as Middlebury students are called, get to participate in living-learning communities known as “Commons.” Many of Middlebury’s first-year seminars are Commons-based, which means students will likely share a classroom, academic advisor, and maybe even a dorm room with fellow seminar students. Ambitious students can apply to the Independent Scholar Program, designed for exceptional students whose educational goals are not fulfilled by their regular departmental major.

The University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT

The phrase “Greatest Snow on Earth” boldly appears on Utah license plates, and for good reason. Utah ski resorts report, on average, more than 500 inches of snow accumulation per season. Located just 40 minutes from the Wasatch mountains, this public university, known to students and faculty as “The U,” provides students with access to top-notch skiing, snowboarding, and mountain climbing terrain. Students interested in getting college credit for their time on the slopes can even take an Introduction to Ski Resort Management course through the university’s Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Department. Taught by ski resort veteran Michael Kaplan, this interactive course teaches students about the operational, marketing, financial, and human resources aspects of the resort and tourist industry.

Off the mountain, the university offers a wide range of academic programs. First-year students can enroll in LEAP, a learning community experience dedicated to “the goals of learning, engagement, achievement, and progress and to the principles of civil awareness and service.” This year-long program allows faculty, peer advisors, and students to explore community and diversity in academics through current events, films, and class trips. The University of Utah also has large startup and business programs to foster and continue a spirit of forward-thinking and innovation. Over 800 students are involved in Utah’s entrepreneurial educational programs, such as Entrepreneurial Faculty Advisors, the Innovation Outreach Program, and student entrepreneurship competitions including techTITANS, the Utah Entrepreneurs Challenge, and Opportunity Quest.

The University of Colorado at Boulder, Boulder, CO

Regarded as a great college for ski and snowboard culture, this public university has produced 33 Olympians who have competed in more than 50 Olympic Games. Since UC Boulder’s campus is within a two-hour drive of eight of Colorado’s 28 ski resorts, it’s no wonder that the school attracts top-notch winter sport athletes. The mountain closest to the campus, Boulder Mountain, has an incline nearly one mile high and experiences an average of 255 sunny days a year, creating ideal ski conditions. The university’s ski and snowboard club, the Boulder Freeride, is not only the largest club on campus but is also the largest collegiate ski and snowboard club in the world. UC Boulder’s annual Ski Ball, which hosts five generations of ski team members, is considered the “best black-tie event in Boulder.”

Offering an astounding 3,400 courses in 150 areas of study and more than 300 student clubs, UC Boulder has plenty of academic and extracurricular options for students to explore. First-year students are invited to participate in Undergraduate Research Opportunities and Residential Academic Learning Communities, which provide an intimate learning experience within this university of approximately 25,000 undergraduate students.

Reed College, Portland, OR

Located in the Eastmoreland neighborhood of Portland, Oregon, this private liberal arts college emphasizes the concept of holistic education, offering outdoor-oriented classes—Reed Outdoor Programs and Education (R.O.P.E)—as well as traditional academics. Outdoor programs include Reed’s Outing Club, offering student-led trips that range from ice climbing to off-piste skiing; a Backpack Co-op program that allows students to borrow a backpack full of all the necessities for outdoor adventuring; and the Outdoor Orientation Odyssey which gives students the opportunity to explore their new surroundings, build friendships, and become immersed in the Reed campus culture. Reed College Ski Cabin, located just 50 miles from the campus on Mt. Hood, is accessible to students, alumni, friends, and family by a daily in-season shuttle.

On campus, Reed’s mission is to be an institution focused on the enlightenment of intellectual and moral culture. In addition to 22 departmental majors, students have the opportunity to combine their interests into interdisciplinary studies, which encourages students to develop creative, well-rounded approaches to our world’s issues. Students can get a jumpstart on their careers through Reed’s extensive internship program, which places students in on-campus jobs and internships with a variety of institutions throughout Portland. All students must abide by Reed’s honor principle, which is a code of conduct that “emphasizes personal responsibility and mutual respect in the conduct of one’s affairs.” Between the honor principle, the unique academics, and the plethora of outdoor programs that enable students to find their niche, Reed can provide a fulfilling undergraduate experience.

These are just some of the many schools across the country that will allow you to indulge in your passion for winter sports while gaining a great college education and experience. Finding the college with the best academic and social environment for you will ensure that you thrive both inside and outside of the classroom.


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