K-12 Schooling Information for Columbia Families
Dear fellow members of the Columbia community,
For many Columbia families with children, fall marks the beginning of the school application process. Columbia has an array of resources to assist families with that undertaking.
This message describes resources offered by the Office of Work/Life’s School and Child Care Search Service, admissions policies for The School at Columbia University, and information about other schools with connections to the University.
School and Child Care Search Service
This unit, staffed by education specialists, helps Columbia families explore the full range of opportunities for enrollment in New York City public, charter, faith-based, and independent schools, as well as early education and child care options. The team offers individual consultations to help families understand admissions and enrollment processes, identify the right schools for their children to thrive, and consider financial aid options for tuition-based schools. Interested families can subscribe to the Pre-K & Kindergarten NYC Newsletter, attend workshops, and request individual consultations by submitting the Service’s Information Request Form.
Like my predecessors, I encourage families interested in this support to reach out as soon as possible. Departments recruiting faculty are also urged to direct candidates with children to this service at an early stage, especially in light of school application deadlines.
For more information, please visit the Office of Work/Life online or call (212) 851-9180.
The School at Columbia University
The School, a vibrant and diverse educational community, serves K–8 students drawn equally from the families of University affiliates and the local neighborhood. The School offers an innovative, socially and emotionally supportive, and academically challenging program that is dedicated to fostering personal resourcefulness and integrity, social responsibility, and a lifelong appreciation of learning.
Eligibility and Priority
The application process, applicable to all prospective students, includes an assessment by The School to confirm that its environment can serve the child. Additionally, officers must be eligible for the University’s Primary Tuition Scholarship.
For kindergarten and any openings at other grade levels, we follow a process, developed by a faculty task force, for allocating seats, prioritizing by groups based on an affiliate’s primary appointment:
Group I is officers of instruction of professorial rank (assistant, associate, and full professors, professors of practice, and 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, admissions timelines, and how students are selected, please visit The School's website.
Kindergarten Admissions for Recruitment and Retention
Some kindergarten class slots are held for recruitment and retention purposes. Deans may use these slots for applicants from Group I. 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 seat.
Kindergarten Admissions for Siblings
As in past years, we have reserved seats in the fall 2022 kindergarten class for siblings of students already attending and continuing at The School. These siblings must live in the same household as the currently enrolled students. The School manages an early admissions process for these spots. Prioritization for this process is by group, as described above. Any sibling applicant not admitted through the early admissions process is eligible for the general lottery.
Kindergarten Admissions through the General Columbia Lottery
Each year for kindergarten, some seats are available for distribution through a general lottery. The general lottery occurs in early February. All lottery seats are prioritized by group, as described above. Applicants who do not receive a seat through the lottery are placed on a waitlist. The deadline for completing the first step in the application process, the submission of an online inquiry, is October 15, 2021.
Kindergarten Admissions Change Starting this Fall
Starting with this fall’s application process for fall 2022 admissions, The School’s birth date cut off is now August 31 instead of December 31. This means that students must turn five by August 31 to attend kindergarten that same fall. This change will allow The School to better support children, narrowing what had been as much as an 18-month age gap between the oldest and youngest students in a grade. As always, The School works with applicants to ensure that children apply for the appropriate grade for their needs.
Grades 1–8 Admissions
Commitments cannot be made for grades 1–8. Any available spaces for these grades 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 open to families in Public School Districts 3 and 5 who either are not affiliated with Columbia or are members of Columbia University bargaining units. The School’s website hosts information about neighborhood families’ application process.
If you have questions or need additional information, please contact the Admissions Office at firstname.lastname@example.org, (212) 851-4216, or (212) 851-4162.
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 serves grades Pre-K to 8. Neither Teachers College nor Columbia has a role in TCCS’s admissions process, so to learn more about the school or admissions, please visit TCCS online.
Columbia Secondary School for Math, Science, and Engineering
The Columbia Secondary School for Math, Science, and Engineering (CSS-MSE) is a NYC Department of Education 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. The University does not have a role in CSS-MSE’s admissions process, so to learn more about the school or admissions, please visit the Columbia Secondary School online.
Finding the right school for your children can be an intensive process. I wish you all the best and encourage you to take advantage of the resources outlined here.
Mary C. Boyce
Professor of Mechanical Engineering