This essay, by Andra from Mountain Vista High School, is one of the top five finalists for our scholarship. Be sure to share your thoughts in the comment section below this post!
I have lived in Highlands Ranch ever since I was 2 years old, which is why it would be no exaggeration for me to claim that I truly know the area like the back of my hand. Throughout my time here, I have met so many amazing people and gone through countless incredible experiences that I will never forget. Despite my experience, it would seem that every day I hear another complaint from a peer or other regarding the beautiful town we live in. They claim that it is like a social “bubble” from which they cannot escape, or that there is not enough diversity in race or income for them to gain knowledge of how life really functions in the real world.
Many of these claims hold serious ground, as 83.2% of Highlands Ranch residents identify as white and the average household income is just over $108,000, with only 16.5% of households making under $50,000. Yet one of the best things about Highlands Ranch is that it is surrounded by extremely diverse locations, all with very different racial makeups, ideological standpoints, and standards of living. To the west, one can find lowly populated areas of both very high end and extremely rural and isolated communities in the mountains. Almost immediately north is Denver, which provides an accurate depiction of urban or city life as well as the democratic ideology. For contrast, just south of Highlands Ranch lies the very large conservative hub of Colorado Springs. Lastly, the east provides farm living among various agricultural communities. If someone were to start at Highlands Ranch and drive just an hour or two straight in any direction, they could encounter vastly different communities of almost every type. To live in Highlands Ranch and complain of the lack of social experience most likely means one is simply not actively seeking those easily accessible experiences.
The location of Highlands Ranch also provides a particularly interesting political environment for residents. Unlike many areas of America, such as on the east coast or in the south, political opinion in Highlands Ranch is quite varied. According to election data, 38.3% of residents identify as Democrat with 60.4% as Republican. This does not account for high schoolers with political opinions under 18 that cannot vote (who tend to be democratic), but otherwise presents an accurate depiction of political divisions in Highlands Ranch. Although the town does lean republican, I have always felt incredibly thankful to live in an area where I can experience both political ideologies firsthand. I feel that the division has directly fostered my interest in political science, which I plan to major in at Colorado College next fall.
Not only is Highlands Ranch ideally located and politically diverse, but it has also provided me with all the academic and social skills that I have needed throughout my youth to succeed. Highlands Ranch is home to 28 elementary schools and 7 high schools, each offering outstanding educational experiences. I currently attend Mountain Vista High School, where I have had the opportunity to not only challenge and prove myself academically with 10 APcourses, but also to get involved in a community that has allowed me to pursue my interests. Most notably, I was elected president of the school’s mock trial team and created a pre-law society in which we discuss current events and legal topics.
Growing up in the Highlands Ranch community has also provided me with the opportunity to play recreational and competitive soccer ever since I was 6 years old. The mindset I have developed, experiences I have had, and people I have met and grown up with as a result have proven to be priceless aspects of my childhood. Additionally, the existence of four state of the art community recreation centers has been a very valuable resource for me to pursue weight lifting and develop my own personal fitness.
Highlands Ranch undoubtedly has its downsides. I listen to my peers complain about it almost every day as they lament how much they desire to get out. What they fail to recognize is the value of Highlands Ranch both for its surrounding communities and resources within the community itself. Growing up here, one is surrounded by endless social experiences and does not have to look far to find people from very different walks of life. They are also granted incredible access to schools, libraries, clubs, recreation centers, and community centers that, if utilized, can help them to develop a well rounded character that will propel them into leading a highly successful adult life. I feel incredibly fortunate to have grown up in a community that has provided me with all the tools I need to succeed before entering the next stage of life at my college, and I do not take it for granted.
“Highlands Ranch, CO.” Data USA, datausa.io/profile/geo/highlands-ranch-co/#demographics.
“Highlands Ranch, CO Politics and Election Data.” Highlands Ranch, CO Politics and Election
Data | Homefacts | Homefacts, HomeFacts, 2018,