Transition School students take courses in English Literature & Composition, History, Biology and Precalculus.  These courses are in-depth and accelerated. Students also participate in Health & Wellness and Community.

The curriculum of Transition School has been developed with several related goals in mind. First and foremost, the Robinson Center prepares TS students to be successful undergraduate students at the University of Washington. This requires not only providing a curriculum rich in content, but one that addresses the scholarly skills students will need to make the most of their University experience. The TS curriculum is not intended to replace the standard high school curriculum, nor does it bear much resemblance to Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) coursework. The focus is to prepare TS students to be strong scholars at the University. Coursework is shaped around these key ingredients to college scholarship:

  • Completion of Precalculus with a thorough understanding of mathematical principles
  • Experience in a lab science, including preparation of lab reports
  • Understanding of the scientific method
  • Experience in the methodology of social science/humanities
  • Acquisition of strong research skills
  • Development of strong writing skills
  • Experience reading challenging texts and providing textual analysis
  • Experience working in a collegial, collaborative scholarly environment
  • Experience in dynamic, seminar-style discussions


English: TS English introduces students to college-level writing and literary analysis. Fall Quarter is primarily devoted to writing skills during which students draft, revise, and complete essays. Students learn how to provide productive peer critiques, how to respond to feedback, and how to work collegially with their fellow students both in class discussion and on projects. Students learn key aspects of writing, from developing a line of inquiry to incorporating evidence usefully. A major focus is developing an awareness of writing across disciplines. During Winter and Spring quarters, students are introduced to college-level literary texts and enhance their analytic and seminar-discussion skills which culminates in a substantial research paper in Spring Quarter. The specific texts change from year to year but the focus in Winter and Spring quarters is the study of literature.

History: The TS History course topics may vary from year to year, but students will gain a solid background in U.S. History. The learning outcomes ensure students to be able to: understand and implement analytical strategies in the reading of historical documents, construct a research paper with appropriate use of evidence, and learn to access the “conversation” within historical debates.

Precalculus: TS Precalculus presents a thorough and in-depth examination of Precalculus material and can be highly differentiated because students in TS often have extremely varied mathematical backgrounds. There are substantial writing and practice opportunities in this course, along with frequent student presentations and opportunities for collaborative work.

Health & Wellness: This course presents the skills necessary to live a healthy and balanced lifestyle. Instruction emphasizes strategies for emotional regulation, interpersonal skills, organizational skills, and other adaptive skills that are essential for students’ college readiness and life-long emotional and physical well-being. The course also offers students opportunities to practice new skills to facilitate a sense of community and agency among themselves. Health and Wellness may include group fitness opportunities in which students play games or different sports activities together outside the classroom or may ask students to log personal physical activity whether it be a walk to a nearby park, biking to campus, or a weekly fitness class.

Biology: TS Biology introduces students to the basic concepts of biology, with a focus on understanding the relationships between ideas and processes occurring across different physical and temporal scales. The course is designed to mirror the nature of science as an active and ongoing process. Students perform laboratory investigations, design experiments, and collect, analyze, and create appropriate graphical representations of data. There is also an emphasis on the importance of scientific communication. Students learn to read and evaluate current primary literature in biology and practice communicating the results of their own investigations through laboratory reports and oral presentations.

Tutorials: Tutorials provide students an opportunity for guided goal-setting and self-reflection. Students are given prompts on a specific topic or theme and asked to share responses during a scheduled meeting with an assigned TS Instructor.  Tutorial prompts may include questions on study skills, time management, physical and mental health, or other topics as needed.

Workload: The workload for TS classes is rigorous, as students have substantial ground to cover, both in content and skill acquisition as they prepare for success at the University. On average, there is about one hour of daily homework for each class, though this will fluctuate depending on the nature of the assignments. Students are exposed to a variety of organizational and time management strategies to assist them in adjusting to, and completing, their work in productive ways during Fall Quarter. The adjustment to these expectations may present initial challenges and opportunities for growth. By late Fall and Winter Quarter, students have generally established the kind of work habits and organization necessary to demonstrate expected levels of learning and progress towards college-level work.

Successfully balancing the goals and workload of TS courses takes an intentional commitment of time and thought which may not be compatible with maintaining extensive extra-curricular commitments. At the same time, Transition School encourages students to participate in reasonable creative and physical outlets to practice healthy habits.

When students successfully complete TS, they enter the University prepared to be thoughtful about their courses, passionate about their subjects, and thorough in their approach to their work. They are collegial, collaborative, and engaged. They have learned how to close-read a text, analyze an essay, apply a concept, take detailed notes, meet deadlines, and tackle a research project. They can write a lab report, give an engaging presentation, and work effectively in groups. They know how to approach an instructor for help, attend review sessions, and to sit in the front of the college classroom to maximize engagement.