At Columbia Prep, the college process is an integral part of our students’ education. Students learn about themselves, their strengths and challenges, their preferences, and their needs; they learn about the great variety of colleges in our country and the world and about presenting themselves to them; they learn about researching important decisions and making good choices.
Like our academic courses, our college process places great emphasis on the individual student’s initiative and responsibility. We do not choose colleges for our students; we strengthen and support them to choose for themselves. In a society increasingly frantic about entry into the “best” colleges, as defined by the media and the various ranking systems, we encourage our students to decide what is the best fit for them as individuals.
Everyone at CGPS—teachers, deans, administrators, coaches, parents, fellow students—plays a role in the college process and supports our students as they go through it. Starting in the sophomore year, but intensively from the middle of junior year onwards, our college office works with students, in group meetings, and individually.
In the sophomore year, we lay out the entire process, particularly the role played by standardized tests. In the junior year, we take students on a trip to a variety of colleges. We show how to research schools through visits, guidebooks, websites, and other resources. We teach about college applications, essays, interviews, and correspondence.
In the senior year, we help students choose the final list of colleges they will actually apply to, and support them through each phase of the application process—from choosing the topics for their college essays to making the final choice of the college they attend. In cooperation with parents, we work hard at preserving our students’ sanity and self-confidence throughout this time. We do not want students to become someone else in order to please a college; we want them to be themselves at their best.