Columbia may have been great once upon a time but has changed greatly in the last 10 years. It seems the administration is just interested in raising funds from rich parents to grow the physical plant and don't really pay attention to the dynamics of the teachers they hire or the student body that they encourage. Teachers are rigid and didactic and don't accommodate different learning styles, even if they make a show of having an LRC program to target those who have academic issues. They have dropped a lot of their state testing and so there is no measure to ensure they are keeping up standards. They seem to draw a lot of the academics out over years making the kids bored by all the repetitive learning. Your child needs to be able to "self teach" if they are to be successful in this environment. Math is disproportionately harder than their English syllabus, which seems weak. On a positive note, they do have a very good Music department and teach a very varied Arts program.
Actually, 3 1/2 --- the grammar school is still the most caring and nurturing teaching environment I've ever seen and could warrant 5 stars on its own-- the high school needs a different admin. philosophy and perhaps a kinder attitude toward parents. They encourage parent involvement early on, then have no system to disengage by high school when they expect to just deal with the students. The difference is in the styles of two different principals. I think there could be less social drama and teen experimentation at the high school level if the teens were handled differently. There are the usual cliques and status competitions over designer things, but academically it is solid--the teachers seem to care more than the administration . The experience up until 9th grade was like a storybook delight. High school combined with the influx of new kids, and the different administration --- not so much
Columbia Prep is teaching me to have a healthy mind, body, soul, and heart. Its academics are challenging yet not overwhelming, its sports are fun and exciting, the facilities are of high quality, and the community, students and teachers, are caring and kind. When people think of the New York City private preparatory schools and how good it is to enroll, Columbia Prep should come to mind. It has all the qualities that an elite NYC private school should have, but, unlike schools like Nightingale Bamford, Spence, Chapin, etc., the environment is friendly and relaxed. One would think it is surprising that students can learn so much in such a relaxed environment, but that is the best way to learn. Another nice thing about this school is kids won't look at you funny if you don't wear designer shoes, unlike most other schools.
Columbia Prep is a great find in the competitive world of private high schools, balancing perfectly a blend of academics, art, sports, and individual student attention. Although the facilites are not particularly dazzling to the eye, they are very high-quality. There are two large gyms in the prep school and a spacious carpeted library. There's also a theater downstairs in the prep school with high-quality seats and a full stage with curtains and a backstage. Overall, it's a great choice.
The extra activities at CGPS are amazing. The teachers are what really make CGPS outstanding. Kind, caring, smart ans engaging. I feel very lucky. They only need to update the grammar schools look - the entry way and music room.