K-12 Schooling Information for Columbia Families

Find out about resources for Columbia parents of school-age children, including Work/Life’s School and Child Care Search Service, admissions information for The School at Columbia University, and details about other schools with ties to the University.

September 30, 2022

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 information for The School at Columbia University, and details about other schools with connections to the University.

School and Child Care Search Service

This office, 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.

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 rigorous program that is dedicated to fostering personal resourcefulness and integrity, social responsibility, and a lifelong appreciation of learning.

We encourage all faculty and other affiliates who may be interested in The School to apply. Based on demographic shifts mirrored in area independent schools, there are currently seats available in all grades. Detailed information about The School and its admissions process and timeline, including the upcoming October 15, 2022 inquiry deadline, can be found on the School’s admissions page.

Please reach out to Mónica Amaro, TSC’s new Director of Enrollment, at[email protected] to learn more. We welcome Mónica back to our community; she comes with a depth of experience in recruitment, enrollment, and NYC independent school admissions and was a founding middle school teacher at TSC.

We are also conducting a search for a new Head of School for the 2023–2024 school year and pleased to have Kathryn Kaiser, a member of the senior leadership team at The School since its inception, as Interim Head this school year.

Eligibility and Priority

The application process for all prospective students starts with a very easy first step—submitting an online inquiry by October 15—and 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 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

Seats are allocated through a general lottery that occurs in early February. All lottery seats are prioritized by group, as described above. Any applicants who do not receive a seat through the lottery are placed on a waitlist and, in recent years, many ultimately received offers for the fall. As mentioned, the deadline for completing the first step in the application process, submitting an online inquiry, is October 15, 2022. This only takes a few minutes, so we encourage anyone who may be interested to take this first step.

For more about eligibility requirements, admissions timelines, and how students are selected, please visit The School's website or contact Mónica Amaro at [email protected]. We encourage all affiliates who may be interested in The School to apply.

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.

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