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Student raising hand in class

Take a look at our daily schedule to understand what goes on during our summer seminar. Our days are packed with reading, writing, class time, and tutorial sessions. Our students see great results, especially if they're willing to work for it!

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Our students want to get involved in solving society's biggest problems. Our program gives you the tools and education you need to make a difference, we ask our students come with with open minds, a strong work ethic, and a commitment to change.

girls at graduation

We're much more than a summer program. Can you commit to the month of July AND the full academic year? Look at our summer calendar and year-long schedule and see if you can make weekly meetings on Columbia's campus before you apply.

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We accept New York City students entering their senior year of high school. We give strong preference to students from low-income households and/or who will be the first generation in their families to attend college


An F&C application may take a few days to compile and users can not pause their application on the online platform. Check below to see all the information and materials you'll need to apply. Trust us, it's worth it!

Download the checklist here

  • Your name, address, email, date of birth, phone number, high school, GPA
  • Your parent or guardian’s highest level of education
  • Your family’s taxable income and household size
  • Your fall schedule (or your current spring schedule, if it will be similar)

What civic engagement project do you want to work on during the academic year and why? Past projects have included:

Immigration, Human Trafficking, Domestic Violence, Refugees, Mass Incarceration, Gentrification, Student rights, College Affordability, Health Care, Gender Equality, Voting Rights, Climate Change, Mental Health, Disability, Gun Control

*You CAN identify a new project we haven’t done before!

  • High school transcript PDF (most recent)
  • Writing Sample: Please provide a copy of a graded and returned paper submitted to an English or Social Studies class during this school year. The sample should represent your best effort and should have teacher comments and/or a grade in the teacher’s handwriting. Please attach or write at the top of the paper the specific instructions that your teacher gave for the assignment.
  • Essay: Respond to the following question with a typed essay of 500 words or less: What one change should be made to American voting laws and why should that change be enacted?
  • Statement of Purpose: Attach a statement of purpose approximately 400 words in length explaining what you hope to get out of the program and what do you think you will contribute. Please make sure to consider BOTH the summer seminar AND the academic year civic leadership project.
  • Email address of your letter of recommender: Ask a teacher or guidance counselor to email a confidential letter addressed to Jessica Lee at speaking to your ability to handle a heavy academic workload, willingness to participate in class, commitment to academic improvement, and your engagement in social or political causes, as applicable. Letters should be sent by 11:59pm on 3/1/19


Applicants must be in 11th grade in a New York City high school. We serve students who are low-income (as determined by federal income guidelines) and/or of the first generation in his or her family to attend college.

No. Our program is one year long, from July through May. Students must commit to BOTH the four-week summer program and the civic leadership program, which meets twice a month throughout the academic year and requires students to work independently between meetings. 

If you're willing to work hard we're willing to guarantee your success. The program is intentionally difficult—you're going to be immersed in the same texts Columbia sophomores are required to read to prove to yourselves and your future university that you can handle anything. But we wouldn't assign this syllabus if we didn't think our students couldn't rise to meet the challenge. Our teaching assistants offer round-the-clock support to make sure you succeed. 

Most of our texts come from the "Contemporary Civilization" course on political philosophy that all students at Columbia take in their sophomore year. Columbia started Contemporary Civilization in the wake of the Great War to teach the future leaders of America how to lead the country away from war and toward peace. The course, texts, and student populations have changed drastically since 1919 but the goals remain. The texts we read directly contributed to establishing the political values our country is built upon: life, liberty, freedom, citizenship, and the pursuit of happiness. We believe that by understanding where those ideas originated and taking ownership of them, our students will be better prepared to lead their fellow citizens toward progress.

Explore our syllabus here.

Go to our Dorm Life page to take a virtual tour of our dorms and check out our FAQs about living on Columbia's campus!

The civic leadership project is an activism lab for Freedom and Citizenship students. Beginning in the summer, students consider the issues that matter most to them. In September they research their topics—its history, current state, possibilities for the future. In the spring, they work with their peers to take action. Some past projects have included videos, visual art, and personal narratives. Students regularly take the training they gain in the program to their colleges as campus activists. 

Explore past and current projects here. 

In the summer, students are expected to attend the full program including orientation, seminar, study sessions, and field trips. Typically, students check in on Sunday evening and check out Friday afternoon. During that time, students may only receive visitors on campus from 10:00 pm to 10:45 pm and may not leave the immediate area around campus.

The program meets about every two weeks during the academic year. Meetings typically last 1-2 hours and are schedule around the students' schedules. The meetings allow students to workshop and prepare their civic leadership projects. 

In addition, all F&C students sign up for college mentoring, which will bring them to Columbia's campus at least one hour a week in the autumn.

We designed our application to ensure that we accept students who are prepared for our program's level of reading and writing. Choosing your strongest writing sample and proofreading your essay will help you put together a strong application. However, our most successful applicants are not necessarily the best writers, but those who can demonstrate excitement for the summer's intensive college experience and a willingness to commit fully to the academic year program. We are particularly interested in students who have some ideas about the civic leadership project. We recommend students look at past years' projects to get an idea of what they would like to contribute.

Contact our Associate Director, Jessica Lee at or our DDC college counselor Christian Rivera at