Once admitted, Transition School students take courses in English Lit & Comp, History, Biology and Precalculus that are fast-paced, in-depth and accelerated. Students also participate in Health & Wellness and a college-preparatory course called UREADY.

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

In the Fall, students begin the year with five classes. These are: History, English, Biology with Lab, Precalculus, and Health and Wellness which continue through Winter Quarter with the addition of a University Readiness seminar in Spring quarter. A description of the TS classes for 2022-23 follows.

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.

In Spring quarter, Biology Lab is reduced to create space for the addition of University Readiness (UReady) which includes a series of seminars and organized college ready experiences designed to prepare students for the transition to the University.

University Readiness (UReady): The purpose of this seminar-style workshop class is to help students prepare for their transition into the University of Washington as a matriculated student following the successful completion of Transition School. Learning outcomes and topics directly support such preparation.  This seminar is an excellent opportunity for students to ask questions about what’s ahead and to begin to visualize themselves as UW students. The class will be taught by RC advising staff and TS Staff and may include guest speakers. UReady is not intended to serve as an Orientation for enrolling in the University or selecting majors. Instead, UReady is intended to explore relevant conversations that help bridge Transition School experiences to initial Early Entrance Program experiences.

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

Workload: The workload for TS classes is significant 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.

University Courses During Transition School (Winter and/or Spring Quarters)

Occasionally a student may enter Transition School who is advanced beyond the TS Precalculus class. All students will remain in the TS Precalculus course during Fall Quarter. If an incoming student has already passed Precalculus with a B+ or higher, demonstrates the continued aptitude and readiness for increasingly advanced levels of math after Fall Quarter TS Precalculus, and is meeting or exceeding expectations in all other TS courses, a case-by-case evaluation will be made to determine if the student should be enrolled in a more advanced UW math course in subsequent quarters as opposed to TS Precalculus. The TS Math Instructor may recommend a student be allowed to enroll as a non-matriculated student in Math 124 Calculus or higher at the University during Winter and/or Spring Quarters. In such cases, families are responsible for the tuition and materials of this course. Note that it is sometimes difficult for students to register for this class because of the order in which non-matriculated students gain access during the registration period. Be prepared to wait until late into the first week of classes to secure a spot.

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.