# The Domino Effect: Why Middle School Math Really Matters

Like all parents, you want your child to develop a lifelong love of learning that continues right through college and beyond – and for good reason. You know that tomorrow’s jobs and careers will require education beyond high school, so a college education will mean more opportunities as well as higher lifetime earnings.

What many families don’t realize is that preparing for college starts long before their child’s junior or senior year in high school – both financially and academically. Taking steps to make sure your child is academically ready for college when the time comes begins early in life, with you encouraging and supporting learning activities. However, it is in grades 7 and 8 when academic preparation for college takes on the greatest significance. Coursework in grades 7 and 8, especially in math and science, forms the foundation for college and initiates a “domino effect” that is vital to your child’s college preparedness.

**What Is the Domino Effect?**

Most college admission requirements have in common a core group of courses, and these courses typically make up the basis of a college-preparatory curriculum. Typically included in this core group are at least three – and preferably four – years of math, and two to four years of science.

Algebra and geometry form the foundation for advanced math and science courses in high school and give students the skills they need to succeed on college entrance exams, in college math classes, and in their future careers. Research shows that students who complete algebra and geometry by the end of ninth grade are more likely to go to college than those who do not (71% versus 26%). By taking algebra early, your child is then prepared to take geometry in ninth grade, and trigonometry, calculus, and advanced science courses later in high school.

Conversely, when students postpone algebra until high school, they may find that they are unable to fit in as many advanced math and science courses as required by the college they had hoped to attend. If that is the case, the student will have to take the additional course(s) independently and reapply for college upon completion. On occasion, students may be admitted to a college and required to take the remedial courses there. Colleges do not typically offer credit for these courses, and students may have to spend extra time in college in order to earn their degrees – and that means more tuition!

**Some Final Thoughts on Academic Preparation for College**

The number of high school graduates who are college-bound is higher than ever before, and the college admission process is also more highly competitive than ever before. Research shows that a rigorous academic program in high school is a greater predictor of college completion than any other factor – so encourage your child to take challenging courses now and throughout high school.