Frequently Asked Questions

General Information

The Application Process

Financial Aid

Academics

Online Learning

What is the program cost?

Program costs can be found on the Program Costs portion of our website; 3-Week Courses, 1-Week Courses.

Do you offer financial aid?

Financial aid funding is no longer available for summer 2020. All funds have been exhausted.

For summer 2020, a limited number of need-based scholarships are available to residents of New York City who are participating in the 3-week Online Immersion program. Additional information about financial aid can be found here.

Is the program offered to dependents of Columbia University employees at a reduced cost?

Yes, dependents of eligible, regular full-time, active Columbia University officers (Columbia University, Barnard College, Teachers College professional staff, CUIMC, and Jewish Theological Seminary) are eligible to receive a 50% reduction in the cost of Immersion programs. The reduction will be applied toward the Online Immersion "Program Cost". For more information, visit our Program Cost pages; 3-Week Courses, 1-Week Courses.

When completing their online application, applicants will have the opportunity to report their dependent status. Once an offer of admission is accepted, High School Program administration will work directly with Human Resources to verify parent/guardian employment status. Once verified, the reduced program cost will be reflected in the student's university account.

For additional information, please email hsp@columbia.edu.

Will participating in this program help me get into Columbia College?

Like any extracurricular activity, participation in this program can help you to present yourself as an interesting candidate. Additionally, the instructor-written evaluations that you receive upon completion of the program can potentially be used as college recommendations.

Where are classes held?

Classes are held online using Zoom.

To successfully participate in your course, you will need:

Computer

A computer that is capable of running the latest versions of browsers, plug-ins, and recent software, including tools that will keep the system free of viruses and spyware.

Internet Connection

A high-speed, hard-wired Internet connection (Ethernet) that will support streaming/interactive audio and video. Weak Wi-Fi may cause issues such as latency, choppy audio, and loss of connection.

Webcam

A webcam will be required for your daily participation in class. If your computer does not have a built in camera, you can purchase a USB-based webcam to affix to the top of your computer.

Headset with Microphone

While many laptops come with built-in mics and speakers, we highly recommend that you use a USB-based headset with a microphone, such as the Logitech H390 USB Computer Headset. If you are using a laptop with a built-in microphone, please use headphones or earbuds during class sessions to avoid echo or feedback. Listening through speakers may cause echo that disrupts the entire class.

Zoom Installation

Please be sure you have administrative permission to install Zoom and other technologies on your computer.

Designated Learning Space

Students should choose a well-lit, distraction-free learning space appropriate for interacting with faculty and fellow students on camera.

Is there a dress code?

There is no dress code for the Online Immersion Program. We advise students dress as if they were attending class in-person.

How much do books and course materials cost?

For most curricular options, students should budget approximately $50 for expenses such as text books and course materials. Some courses also require equipment or software that should be purchased before the start of class; these requirements are listed toward the bottom of the pertinent course pages; 3-Week Courses and 1-Week Courses.

How much homework do teachers assign?

The amount of homework varies from one class to another. In most cases, students should expect no more than two hours of homework per night.

Are there information sessions available to learn more about the program?

Yes. For more information about upcoming information sessions, please visit the Events page.

What are you looking for in an applicant?

The admissions committee looks for academically exceptional students who are interested in attending the program because they have a passion for learning and wish to enrich their knowledge of the particular field for which they are applying.

Admission to the program is competitive, but there are no minimum achievement requirements (such as a particular GPA) for admission. Application materials should establish that the student has the necessary academic background and level of ability, motivation, and maturity necessary for the curricular option for which he or she is applying. Students must provide sufficient evidence to satisfy prerequisites that may be listed in the program description.

May I still be in the program if I am already a senior in high school?

Yes, you still qualify for participation in the program.

For the recommendation letter, may I submit a letter from a school administrator such as my principal, headmaster, or guidance counselor?

No. No substitutions are accepted for the letter of recommendation. The perspective of a teacher is valuable in making admissions decisions.

What if my PSAT, SAT, or ACT scores are low?

We do not ask for these scores as part of the application. If they are available, we will consider them, particularly in the case of students applying to study science or math.

I took the program last year. Must I reapply?

You should submit a new application form, the Community Standards Consent Form, a letter from an instructor, and an up-to-date high school transcript. You do not need to submit a personal essay or the application fee. Creative writing applicants should follow the directions for submitting required writing samples. When applying online, you should follow the application instructions for past participants.

May I apply to Session 1, Session 2, and Session 3?

Yes, you may apply to take courses in multiple sessions. Students who want to apply to Session I and II should submit one Summer Immersion: 3-Week application and indicate on the Program of Study page that they want to do Dual Session.

If you are interested in attending both the Online Immersion 3-Week and Online Immersion 1-Week programs, please submit your application to Online Immersion 3-Week and email hsp-apply@columbia.edu. for an application fee waiver code to be applied to your second application. We will clone your application materials so all you will need to do for the second application is select your first choice and second choice curricular options and submit.

May I take more than one curricular option?

You may take only one curricular option per session.

When will I be notified of an admissions decision?

It normally takes three to five weeks to receive a decision after all application materials have been received.

Should I expect additional mailings after receiving my admissions letter?

You will receive instructional emails after submitting your enrollment form and committing to attend the program, but no mailings will be sent via postal mail.

I am homeschooled, who is eligible to submit recommendation letters on my behalf?

The academic recommendation can come from the student's primary instructor. If the instructor is a parent or legal guardian, their email address must match the email address provided in the parent information section of the application.

Who is eligible to apply for financial aid?

Students must have permanent residency in New York City (Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Staten Island, or Queens) and participate in the 3-week online immersion program.

If an applicant meets the minimum program and residency qualifications, they are eligible to submit a formal financial aid application via the online application portal. Students who do not meet the minimum qualifications will not have access to the financial aid application.

Applicants that receive this need-based award may not combine it with additional financial aid granted through the School of Professional Studies (SPS) or a partner organization. Dependents of a Columbia University employee who are eligible for the Columbia University officer reduced price do not qualify for this need-based scholarship.

How much financial aid can an applicant receive?

If granted aid, an award of $1,933 will be applied directly to the cost of the program. Please note, financial aid is only available to students participating in the 3-Week Online Immersion program. Scholarships are not available to students joining the Online 1-Week program.

If admitted, participants will be required to submit a nonrefundable deposit of $1,000 to confirm their enrollment in the program and secure their awarded aid. For additional details regarding the cost of the program, please refer to the Program Cost portion of our website.

What documentation must be submitted with the financial aid application?

All applications require formal documentation of their parent(s)/legal guardian(s) most recent tax return and W-2. Documentation for all parent(s)/legal guardian(s), regardless of marital status, is required. Both the custodial and non-custodial parent/legal guardian must submit the required materials. If either individual has remarried, the income from the new family unit must be reported in full. When reviewing for aid, information submitted from all parties will be considered.

Applicants will also be required to answer additional supplementary questions related to income and household information.

Applications will be considered incomplete if required information is not received.

Are financial aid awards subject to income tax?

Scholarship awards may be subject to income tax. If awarded aid, please consult with the IRS or your tax advisor to determine the taxability of your scholarship and how such amounts may affect the amount for your education tax credit or deduction. Award recipients will receive Form 1098-T, which will include a program cost statement, including any scholarships received from the University. For additional information on these issues, please reference IRS Notice 97-60: Consumer Guidance on Education Tax incentives and IRS Publication 970: Tax Benefits for Higher Education. These documents, as well as copies of IRS Forms 8863 and 8917, can be obtained on the IRS website, or by calling the IRS 1-900-829-1040.

When will I receive my financial aid decision?

Upon admission to the program, applicants will receive a decision regarding their financial aid application. After reviewing the decision, applicants will have fifteen days to confirm their enrollment in the program and secure their awarded aid.

Is the program offered to dependents of Columbia University employees at a reduced cost?

Yes, dependents of eligible, regular full-time, active Columbia University officers (Columbia University, Barnard College, Teachers College professional staff, CUIMC, and Jewish Theological Seminary) are eligible to receive a 50% reduction in the cost of Immersion programs. The reduction will be applied toward the Online Immersion "Program Cost". For more information, visit our Program Cost pages; 3-Week Courses, 1-Week Courses.

When completing their online application, applicants will have the opportunity to report their dependent status. Once an offer of admission is accepted, High School Program administration will work directly with Human Resources to verify parent/guardian employment status. Once verified, the reduced program cost will be reflected in the student's university account.

For additional information, please email hsp@columbia.edu.

How many classes can I take?

Each student chooses just one curricular option in any given 3-week or 1-week session. Some curricular options consist of two or more related classes (see individual class descriptions).

Participants also have the option of attending, in addition to the classes within their curricular option, various special lectures and co-curricular programs during the midday break and after class (see the Student Experience page).

Do I have to take all of the classes that make up my chosen curricular option?

Yes.

When do classes meet?

Most curricular options meet for two hours each morning and two hours every afternoon, Monday through Friday, but there are exceptions; see individual course pages or specific meeting times; 3-Week Courses, 1-Week Courses. Students are normally given a ten-minute break halfway through each class meeting.

The hours between the morning and afternoon meetings are devoted to lunch, relaxation, and various co- and extracurricular activities.

How demanding are the classes?

Classes are taught essentially at the level of Columbia College courses. They are intended for bright, high-achieving high school students who are proficient in English and want to work hard, be challenged, and think independently.

That said, students are not expected to master all the concepts to which they are exposed; they are evaluated on the basis of how much effort they put in and how much progress they make, not on whether they have understood all the material.

What is the program’s approach to teaching and learning?

Classes are experiential and collaborative. While course teachers do provide substantive instruction, students learn largely by engaging directly with the subject matter through activities such as class discussions, debates, simulations, case studies, meetings with guest speakers, assigned readings, and individual and group projects. Participants are expected to participate actively in class and may be required to prepare in-class presentations.

Students are encouraged to think independently, logically, critically, and creatively. Instructors guide them in learning how to do so. Even more important than the particular knowledge participants gain in these classes is the ability to think with both open-mindedness and precision about complex material. We believe that this skill will be essential to them not only in their academic careers but also in their lives as world citizens and future leaders.

What is the attendance policy?

Because learning in our courses is so much based on what goes on in class and because the sessions are so short in duration, it is important that students attend all or virtually all class sessions. A student who misses multiple class sessions may not receive a Statement of Completion, even if those absences are excused. Unexcused absences can lead to dismissal from the program. Attendance is carefully monitored.

How much homework is assigned?

While much of the required work is done in class with instructor guidance, students should expect, on average, an hour or two of homework per night.

How much do books and course materials cost?

Students should budget approximately $50 for books and course materials. Some curricular options may require additional materials.

Detailed information regarding course-specific materials can be found on the Course Materials page.

Who teaches the classes?

Classes are taught by scholars and practitioners who are experts in their fields, have a passion and demonstrated aptitude for teaching, and have undergone background checks and University Protection of Minors training.

Teacher biographies appear at the bottom of each course page, though please note that (a) not all instructors listed for a course teach all sections of that course, (b) students cannot request particular teachers or sections, and (c) we occasionally have to make staffing changes because of availability issues.

Are the classes for academic credit?

Courses in the Online Immersion Programs do not carry college credit. Upon successful completion, participants receive, in addition to evaluation letters, Columbia University Statements of Completion.

Students seeking to earn college credit may be interested in our College Edge program, in which they can take actual undergraduate classes alongside college students.

How are students evaluated?

Grades are not assigned. Rather, upon successful completion of the program, students receive an official Columbia University Statement of Completion and written evaluations from their instructors. Instructors comment candidly and constructively on students’ performance, as demonstrated by their in-class participation and submitted work. Students are evaluated on the basis of effort they put in, their progress over the duration of the class, and their potential for future work in the pertinent field and in college.

What kind of technology is required?

To successfully participate in your course and co-curricular activities, you will need:

Computer

A computer that is capable of running the latest versions of browsers, plug-ins, and recent software, including tools that will keep the system free of viruses and spyware.

Internet Connection

A high-speed, hard-wired Internet connection (Ethernet) that will support streaming/interactive audio and video. Weak Wi-Fi may cause issues such as latency, choppy audio, and loss of connection.

Webcam

A webcam will be required for your daily participation in class. If your computer does not have a built in camera, you can purchase a USB-based webcam to affix to the top of your computer.

Headset with Microphone

While many laptops come with built-in mics and speakers, we highly recommend that you use a USB-based headset with a microphone, such as the Logitech H390 USB Computer Headset. If you are using a laptop with a built-in microphone, please use headphones or earbuds during class sessions to avoid echo or feedback. Listening through speakers may cause echo that disrupts the entire class.

Zoom Installation

Please be sure you have administrative permission to install Zoom and other technologies on your computer.

Designated Learning Space

Students should choose a well-lit, distraction-free learning space appropriate for interacting with faculty and fellow students on camera.

What do I do if I have technical difficulties?

Prior to the start of the program and before each class, we recommend all students check to ensure they have a secure internet connection and their webcam, headset, and microphone are all performing properly. If you experience a technical issue while attending class, you will be able to reach out to your Course Facilitator who will help troubleshoot the occurring issue.

Are there accommodations for students with disabilities?

The University provides a full range of services and accommodations to assist students with disabilities. Upon acceptance into the program, students seeking assistance should contact the Disability Services Office. Only students who identify their disabilities well in advance can be assured of accommodation upon the start of the program.

Is there a scheduled time I must log in for the class?

Students are expected to be in class by their scheduled times. We advise students to log into their class 10 minutes before to ensure that their technology is running correctly. For course meeting times, please check your individual course page; 3-Week Courses and 1-Week Courses

What activities are available outside of the classroom for students?

The Online Immersion Program offers two different kinds of student life activities. The first kind is co-curricular activities. Co-curricular events are those meant to expand students' intellectual experience. Such activities would include lectures on the college application process and special lectures on topics of current interest.

The second kind of activities is our College Life activities. Created and hosted by current college undergraduates, the student life events feature seminars and student clubs meant to introduce students to themes around college life and healthy community engagement at college.

All events take place during the students’ midday break or after classes and are accessible by all students regardless of their class schedule.

How is the program accommodating students who live in different time zones?

All courses are taught synchronously, which requires students to attend class during the set meeting hours indicated on the individual course description page.

3-Week courses are typically offered on one of two schedules, with some exceptions:

  • 9:10 - 11:00 a.m. and 1:10 - 3:00 p.m.
  • or
  • 11:10 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. and 3:10 - 5:00 p.m.

1-Week courses meet on the following schedule, with some exceptions:

  • 10:10 am. - 12:00 p.m. and 2:10 - 4:00 p.m.

When selecting a curricular option, we encourage students to determine if the meeting hours of that particular course are feasible for the time-zone in which the student lives. If the assigned meeting times of a particular course do not match well to the student's needs, we recommend students consider curricular options that may meet at a more convenient time.

Students are welcome to contact our Admissions Office for recommendations on similar curricular options by emailing hsp@columbia.edu.