Transition Middle School Student on Right High School Track

Contact: Dr. Dennis Shaw, Center Director
Huntington Learning Center of Ankeny

Registering for classes in high school might sound simple, but choosing the right classes is essential. According to Dr. Dennis Shaw of the Ankeny Huntington Learning Center, strength of curriculum is an important consideration for students with college aspirations. “One of the top several factors of importance to college admission officers when evaluating candidates is strength of curriculum—or in other words, challenging classes that show that a high school applicant is well prepared for college,” says Dr. Shaw. For parents of middle school students looking ahead to high school or freshmen thinking ahead to college, he offers these tips:

• It’s fine to ramp up. If your student begins 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 child starts high school in regular Geometry and earns an A+, it might be worth a discussion with the guidance counselor to figure out if Honors Algebra II (vs. regular) is a possibility for sophomore year.

• Keep in mind that certain classes are prerequisites for harder classes. While showing increased rigor is good, if your child wants to take certain advanced-level classes as an upperclassman, they’ll need to take the right classes to get there. For example, an 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.

• Graduation requirements might not fulfill certain colleges’ admission 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.

• 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 Advanced Placement 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. “We often see freshmen who didn’t take honors classes in middle school become frustrated when they have to double up on classes as sophomores in order to hop over to the advanced course sequence,” says Dr. Shaw. “Our advice to parents of middle school students is to consider the future. Middle school does set students on a path, so if your student has big goals and dreams of that competitive college, it’s not too early to help them get there.”

If your student is striving to achieve in high school and struggling in one or more classes, call Huntington at 1-800 CAN LEARN. We’ll help them strengthen their weaknesses, establish good school habits that will last a lifetime, and achieve their dreams.

About Huntington Learning Center

Huntington Learning Center is the nation's leading tutoring and test prep provider. We offer customized programs in-person, online and hybrid options. Our certified teachers provide individualized instruction in phonics, reading, writing, study skills, elementary and middle school math, Algebra through Calculus, Chemistry, and other sciences. It preps for the SAT and ACT, as well as state and standardized exams. Huntington programs develop the skills, confidence, and motivation to help students succeed and meet the needs of Common Core State Standards. Huntington is accredited by Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools and Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Founded in 1977, Huntington's mission is to give every student the best education possible. Learn how Huntington can help at and for franchising opportunities, visit

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Date: Wednesday, October 6

Ankeny, IA Center

110 SE Grant Street, Suite 104
Alpha Place Office Building.
Ankeny, IA 50021