Setting Your Middle School Student on the Right High School Academic Track

By Huntington Learning Center

  • It’s fine to ramp up. If your student is in middle school or just starting high school and you’re concerned they’re not taking hard enough classes, don’t worry. It’s fine for a student to start out with the standard core courses in English, math, history and science and then progress toward more rigorous classes in their areas of strength. In other words, if your eighth-grade or freshman student takes a grade-level math class and earns an A+, it might be worth a discussion with the guidance counselor to move them into the advanced/honors track for high school (or for sophomore year in the cash of a freshman).
  • Keep in mind that certain classes are prerequisites for harder classes. While showing increased rigor is good, if your student wants to take certain advanced-level classes as an upperclassman in high school, they’ll need to take the right classes to get there. For example, an Advanced Placement (AP) Chemistry class might require a student to take Honors or Advanced Algebra II simultaneously (and that class might have required Honors Geometry as a freshman). The school course catalog lays out the different course sequences so you and your student can make sure they’re in the right sequence for them when it comes time to register for high school classes. Taking the right classes in middle school makes it easier for your student to take (and succeed in) these higher-level classes in high school.
  • Graduation requirements might not fulfill certain colleges’ admissions requirements. The guidance counseling office can advise your student, but it’s important to realize that some colleges and universities have strong transcript preferences for high school applicants. If your student’s high school requires two years of a foreign language to graduate, for example, but your student is aiming for the Ivy League, they should do a little research. Some highly selective colleges prefer three or more years of foreign language classes and four years of math classes.
  • Middle school performance lays the groundwork. The argument that middle school academics do not matter simply isn’t true. Middle school academics set students on a particular path and teach them the habits needed in high school. So, a student taking all honors classes in middle school is more likely to understand the workload and diligence required in high school. And the students in the middle school honors track are most likely to be recommended for high school AP and honors classes.

If your child has the academic ability and interest in pursuing challenging classes in high school, make sure they’re on the right track in middle school. Freshmen who didn’t take honors classes in middle school might have to double up on classes in their sophomore year of high school in order to move over to the advanced course sequence.

At Huntington, we advise parents of middle school students to consider the future. Middle school does set students on a path, so if your student has big goals and dreams of going to a competitive college, it’s not too early to help them get there.

If your student is having difficulty in a subject in one or more classes, call Huntington at 1-800 CAN LEARN.