Columbia University’s School Search Services and Admissions to the Columbia K-8 School 

September 16, 2014

Dear Colleagues,

It is once again time to outline the resources available through the Office of Work/Life’s School and Child Care Search Service, distribute the admissions policies for The School at Columbia University, our K-8 school, and share information about other schools with connections to the University.

The School and Child Care Search Service is an excellent resource for helping Columbia families explore the full range of opportunities in New York City independent, faith-based, and public schools. The education specialists at the Service help families understand the admissions and enrollment processes; identify schools where their children can thrive; and consider financial aid options for tuition-based schools. The Service’s website is a rich resource and interested families can also subscribe to the weekly Pre-K and Kindergarten (for schools located in New York City) Newsletter. In addition, families can attend relevant workshops or request individual consultations by submitting the Service’s online inquiry form, or by calling (212) 851-9180.

The School is a dynamic and diverse community drawn equally from the families of University employees and from the local neighborhood. The School is dedicated to fostering personal resourcefulness and integrity, a sense of social responsibility, and a lifelong appreciation of learning through an innovative, socially and emotionally supportive, and academically challenging program.

Unfortunately, it is not possible to accommodate all of the demand, particularly at the kindergarten level. To manage this, we follow a process for allocating seats that was developed by a faculty task force on the topic. Accordingly, a certain block of spaces are reserved for new recruits and retentions, another block is allocated to siblings of children already in the School, and the remainder is distributed through a lottery process. The lottery prioritizes seats by Group:

  • Group I are officers of instruction of professorial rank (assistant, associate, and full professors; professors of practice; clinical professors).
  • Group II are other academic officers (officers of the libraries, research officers, teachers in the School itself, and other officers of instruction not included in the first category).
  • Group III are officers of administration and other employees of the University.

Officers must be eligible for the University’s Primary Tuition Scholarship (PTS) benefit in order to submit an application to the School. The PTS benefit is restricted to full-time officers whose primary residence and that of their children are within the five boroughs of New York City. For details, please review the PTS policy at

Admissions for Recruitments and Retentions
Approximately half of the kindergarten class slots dedicated to Columbia families are held for recruitment and retention commitments. Schools have been given allotments for slots in the incoming kindergarten class against which deans and vice presidents can make commitments for Group I faculty only; these allocations may not be used for Group II or Group III families. Faculty already at Columbia and holding commitments must go through the early admission process and pay the non-refundable tuition deposit by the stated deadline in the fall semester. Any commitments for which The School has not yet received the non-refundable tuition deposit by the announced deadline will automatically be available for use in the general lottery. As in the past, commitments can only be made for children that a faculty member already has; they cannot be made for unborn children.

Admissions for Siblings
We reserve 20% of the space for the incoming fall 2015 kindergarten class for siblings of students already attending The School. This sibling preference is available only for admission to kindergarten and only for those siblings who reside in the same household with currently enrolled students who will be continuing at The School.

We manage an early admission process for families wishing to apply for these spots. If there are more families seeking admission than spots available, we will run a lottery to determine who will be admitted. First priority in the sibling lottery will go to Group I families, followed by Group II families, and then Group III families. Any family not admitted through the early admission process, remains eligible for the general lottery.

Admissions through the General Columbia Lottery
Approximately one third of Columbia’s portion of the kindergarten seats will be available for distribution through a lottery. All uncommitted seats that schools do not use from their allotments are automatically added to the lottery pool. Completed applications for the lottery are due by 4:00 p.m. on November 14, 2014 and the general lottery will be run in late January. Between February and the start of the new school year, any slot that had been committed to a recruitment or retention that is subsequently freed will also go into the general lottery pool. All lottery seats are prioritized by Group.

Please note that there is also a Neighborhood Lottery for families in school districts 3 and 5 who are not affiliated with Columbia, with the exception of members of the University’s bargaining units.

Admissions to Grades 1-8
Commitments cannot be made for grades 1-8. Any available spaces for these grades will be allocated through a general lottery with first priority given to the recruitment of incoming Group I faculty members.

Detailed information on The School and its admissions process can be found at Please contact The Office of Admissions with any questions or for additional information about the application process. The Admissions Office can be reached at [email protected] or (212) 851-4216. Online inquiry forms are available online.

The Columbia Secondary School for Math, Science, and Engineering (CSS-MSE) is a public school for grades 6-12, located on West 123rd Street. CSS-MSE opened in 2007 in partnership with the New York City Department of Education to serve academically talented students with an interest in math, science, and engineering and to provide a high-level, selective option for the community and other districts. To learn more about CSS-MSE, please visit