By the book: 5 ways Colorado State can improve its academic atmosphere

Nick Botkin

A book on a table on a windy day
Emphasizing ideas over grades can help foster a dynamic academic climate at CSU (Photo courtesy of Nick Botkin/Rocky Mountain Collegian)

Sometimes, it might seem like school is about anything but academics.

Football games. Extracurricular activities. Parties. What-have-you.


And all are to be expected. But as a venerable land grant institution with 250-plus programs, there are a multitude of ways to emphasize the discourse of academic ideas on campus. 

Place less emphasis on football

Sometimes it seems like we get caught up in football fever. Our new football stadium dominates the campus skyline. Said stadium is reminiscent of a modern-day coliseum, except the gladiators are football players tearing each other apart. On top of all that, our football team even has its own Twitter page. 

There is a time and a place for games. But emphasizing a healthy balance is vital. If nothing else, perhaps it is time to start assigning Steve Almond’s excellent manifesto, “Against Football,” in English classes.

Reform the grading system

As a state-run institution, there is limited wiggle room for a full-blown reformation. However, there are still steps that instructors can take to place less emphasis on grading. Instructors can emphasize the more intellectual goals of their courses. They can speak in terms of the broader exchange of ideas. An emphasis on participation as opposed to numbers can be beneficial.

Some instructors might also consider employing the check-plus/check-minus system for assignments. Varied courses, including some creative writing classes, employ this method. This move might reduce psychological pressure on fellow Rams.

Emphasize the real-world implications of academic programs

Some might question the salience of classes to the so-called real world. Encouraging or even requiring students to apply these skills in a more hands-on manner can help dispel these notions, especially beyond campus. Instructors can emphasize internships and other forms of community engagement. This can also be advantageous to students contemplating the jungle that is the career world. 

Colorado State University academic resources

The Institute For Learning and Teaching (TILT)

801 Oval Drive


Emphasize academic resources via social media.


CSU has a plethora of valuable resources such as the Writing Center and Morgan Library, along with the Institute for Learning and Teaching. In an age in which awareness is often shaped by social media, CSU should take advantage. Giving such academic resources Twitter or Facebook pages might just bolster academic support on campus.

And while Morgan Library does have a Twitter page, it could emphasize more library specific information, in addition to its plethora of fascinating images of the University’s storied past. 

More campus-wide renovations

In an era when it seems like construction is rampant around CSU, some buildings still seem decrepit. Cough, cough, Clark. A good academic atmosphere requires pleasing aesthetics.

Would you study in a building that looks like a Stalinist torture chamber? Could you find positive uplift in a classroom that smells  like a foot? Plus more full-scale renovation projects allow for better technology and other classroom resources. 

Collegian reporter Nick Botkin can be reached at His Twitter handle is @dudesosad.