Columbia's School and Child Care Search Service and Admissions to The School at Columbia

October 01, 2018

Dear fellow members of the Columbia community,

For many Columbia families with children, autumn marks the beginning of the school application process. This message outlines the resources available through the Office of Work/Life’s School and Child Care Search Service, describes the admissions policies for The School at Columbia University, and shares information about other schools with connections to the University.

School and Child Care Search Service

The School and Child Care Search Service is an excellent resource for Columbia families interested in exploring the full range of opportunities for enrollment in New York City independent, public, faith-based, and charter schools, as well as early education and child care options. The education specialists at the Service provide individual consultations to help families understand admissions and enrollment processes, identify schools where their children can thrive, and consider financial aid options for tuition-based schools. Interested families can subscribe to the PreK/Kindergarten NYC Newsletter, attend workshops, and request individual consultations by submitting the Service's Consultation Request Form.

We encourage interested families to reach out as early as possible to the School and Child Care Search Service to discuss options for their children. We also encourage departments recruiting faculty to direct candidates with children to this Service at an early stage.

For more information, please visit the Office of Work/Life’s website or call (212) 851-9180.

The School at Columbia University

The School is a dynamic and diverse community serving K–8 students drawn equally from the families of University affiliates 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.

Detailed information about The School and its admissions process and timeline, including the October 15 inquiry deadline, can be found at

Eligibility and Priority

The application process includes an assessment by The School to confirm it can serve the child. Additionally, officers must be eligible for the University’s Primary Tuition Scholarship.

Unfortunately, it is not possible to accommodate all of the enrollment demand, particularly for kindergarten. To manage this, we follow a process for allocating seats that was developed by a faculty task force on the topic.

Seats at The School are prioritized by Group based on an affiliate’s primary appointment:

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

For more about eligibility requirements, please visit The School’s website.

Kindergarten Admissions for Recruitments and Retentions

Some kindergarten class slots are held for recruitment and retention commitments. Deans may use these slots for applicants from Group I. Provided The School can serve the child, faculty already at Columbia and holding commitments must go through the standard admissions process and pay the non-refundable tuition deposit by the deadline to secure their slot.

Kindergarten Admissions for Siblings

As in past years, we have reserved seats in the fall 2019 kindergarten class for siblings of students already attending and continuing at The School. These siblings must reside in the same household as the currently enrolled students. The School manages an early admission process for these spots. Prioritization for this process is by Group, as described above. Any sibling applicant not admitted through the early admission process is eligible for the General Lottery. As for all applicants, the process includes an assessment by The School to confirm it can serve the child.

Kindergarten Admissions through the General Columbia Lottery

Each year for kindergarten, some seats are available for distribution through a General Lottery. Applications for the Lottery are due on November 16. The General Lottery will occur in early February. All lottery seats are prioritized by Group, as described above. Those applicants who do not receive a seat through the lottery are placed on a waitlist.

Grades 1-8 Admissions

Commitments cannot be made for grades 1–8. Any available spaces for grades 1–8 are allocated through a lottery, with first priority given to the recruitment of incoming Group I faculty members. Those applicants who do not receive a seat through the lottery are placed on a waitlist.

For Neighborhood Families

There is also a neighborhood application process for families in Public School Districts 3 and 5 who are not affiliated with Columbia, except for members of the University’s bargaining units. Find more information here.

Please contact the Admissions Office at [email protected] or (212) 851-4216 with any questions or for additional information about the application process.

Teachers College Community School

Teachers College and the New York City Department of Education opened Teachers College Community School (TCCS) in September 2011. TCCS is a non-selective public school intended to demonstrate how affiliation with a higher education institution can lead to effective implementation of comprehensive educational services in an urban, community public school. The school currently serves grades PreK–7 and will reach full scale serving grades PreK–8 in 2019-2020. To learn more about TCCS and its admissions process, please visit

The Columbia Secondary School for Math, Science, and Engineering

The Columbia Secondary School for Math, Science, and Engineering (CSS-MSE) is a public school serving students in grades 6–12 located on West 123rd Street. CSS-MSE opened in 2007 to serve academically talented students with an interest in math, science, and engineering and to provide a rigorous, selective option for the community and other districts. CSS-MSE uses a holistic approach to build on students’ own life experiences and establishes opportunities for students to engage in research and service learning across the city and at Columbia. To learn more about CSS-MSE and its admissions process, please visit

We encourage families to meet with our education specialists at the Office of Work/Life’s School and Child Care Search Service to begin their exploration of K–12 public and tuition-based schooling options for their children.

John H. Coatsworth