The purpose of this page is to help parents and students prepare for the transition to high school. This page is for guidance only and information may change throughout the year and school district. Please follow up with your child's chosen school to verify information.


Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools High School Planning Guide >>

Must live in Mecklenburg County to Attend

Union County Schools Planning Guide >>

Must live in Union County to Attend

Union County Schools High School Programs of Study >>


The majority of NC Public Schools are on the Block Schedule. Read or download the PDF that explains how the block schedule functions at the high school level.



Magnet Schools

Magnet Schools are “theme based schools which promote student’s interests, abilities, and talents.”

Your county's school website should have:

  • Key dates and processes for magnet schools

  • A list of Open Houses for magnet schools

  • Information on Magnet Fairs

International Baccalaureate (IB) Magnet Schools

  • A theme based magnet school where students earn an IB diploma and a CMS diploma if all of the requirements are met.

  • Students must apply and be accepted into IB programs (the IB application process starts early).

  • Currently, IB Programs are offered at East Mecklenburg High School (Southeast Transportation Zone), Myers Park High School (Myers Park HS only if that is your home school).

  • IB is an extremely academically rigorous program. Service hours and 5 credits of Foreign Language are required. Learn more >>

Charter Schools

Charter Schools can be attended by any student in the state that gains admittance. Most Charter Schools admit through public lottery process.

For more information about North Carolina Public Charter Schools click here >>

Academy Programs

Review your County School’s website to see what is offered. Here are just a few:

  • Butler High School - Academy of Health Sciences

  • Independence High School - Academy of Engineering & Academy of International Studies

  • South Mecklenburg High School - IDEA (Innovation, Design, Engineering & Art) Academy

Early College

Early College is offered at many local community colleges and some universities. To learn more about which programs are offered, contact the individual institution.

CMS Early College >>

Union County Early College >>

World Languages

  • World Languages are not a requirement to graduate, but the University of North Carolina system comprised of 16 universities requires a minimum of 2 World Language Courses taken in high school.

  • For college bound students, your high school guidance department may recommend taking at least 2 or 3 credits of a foreign language in high school (some colleges require 3 high school credits). This language is often studied in college as well. 

  • Currently, Greek Language is only taught at select schools through online course-work. Queens Grant and South Mecklenburg are both schools that offer a Greek Language course. Students who received a final grade of “C” or better in 3 years of middle school Spanish or Chinese class will receive credit for Spanish I or Chinese I. This will allow them to take Spanish II or Chinese II when they begin high school. Check with your high school guidance counselor for more information on transferring language credits.

  • Socrates students who take 3 years of Greek Language and receive a final grade of at least a “C” average in each class are given up to 3 high school credits in Greek Language. 

  • Check with your school’s guidance department to see if this will take the place of the College World Language requirement. Most colleges prefer to see a foreign language taken in high school, because they want you to continue to study that language in college.

  • In 9th grade, check your child’s transcript to make sure the 3 Greek Language credits appear.

  • The Ellinomatheia exam is not associated with high school credit. At this time, however, passing this exam gives you college credit to University of North Carolina CHARLOTTE, (UNCC) only.

  • The benefit to having studied the Greek Language in addition to another foreign language in high school, is that the Greek Language credits may make the student stand out and look unique against his/her competition and they are the root of many scientific and literary terms.

Suggestions for a Successful Transition to High School

Those students who choose to get involved in their new school as early as possible tend to adjust faster. This allows your child to make new friends (even before school starts). Consider activities such as Athletics, Marching Band/Color Guard, Theater, ROTC, and Clubs. Many try-out dates are in the spring.  Contact your school early for the try-out dates for various activities. The guidance department may be able to let you know which faculty member to contact to get more information. Parents, be prepared for your child to be very busy in High School, both in class and after school.

Next Steps

  • Once you know what high school your child will attend, request a meeting with your high school guidance department and a tour of the school sometime between December and March. Keep in mind that not all schools will accommodate this request. Bring your child to this meeting.

  • Before meeting with Guidance, find out which math class your child is taking in 8th grade (8th grade Math, High School Math I or High School Math II).

  • Every week, check your high school’s announcement page on their website to see what is going on at the school.

  • Attend as many open houses and meetings at the school as possible. Bring your child with you so they begin to feel comfortable in their new school.

  • Ask your 8th grade teachers for their recommendations for CP and Honors courses. Bring signed recommendations for Honors courses to Guidance when you sign up for 9th grade courses.

Questions to Research or Ask at Your Meeting with Guidance

  • When is registration open for Socrates Academy (out of district) students?

  • When can my child and I make course selections?

  • What are course selection recommendations?

  • What is the process to receive 8th grade teacher recommendations for Honors classes?

  • How do I sign my child up to ride the bus to/from school?

  • Request to be put on the list to receive school newsletters.

  • When are Open House dates and can my child attend?

  • Ask for a copy of the CMS High School Planning Guide or Union County Program of Studies book.

  • Other Questions?

Other Helpful Information

  • Many Guidance Departments are understaffed and each counselor can be responsible for 400+ students. It is important, as a parent, that you research what courses are best for your child to take, with input from your Guidance Counselor.

  • Students and parents should take ownership for researching high school courses and carefully choose those courses.

  • High school courses taken in middle school (Math I, Math II, English I, Spanish I, etc.) are given credit but the grades made in those courses do not count toward a student’s high school GPA.

  • Colleges look at grades in 9th through 12th grades. College bound students should use this first year to make the best grades possible. It becomes more difficult to pull up a GPA from a slow start in 9th grade.

  • Colleges take into account “strength of schedule”. They expect a student’s course load to become more difficult/challenging as they progress in their high school years. This includes 12th grade since colleges look at courses taken that year and grades when making acceptance decisions.

  • A Four Year Plan for preparing for College can be found on many Guidance websites. If this is not offered, it is a good idea to request it in freshman year.

  • When applying to colleges, although grades and test scores are important, colleges also want to see a variety of student service/volunteer hours. Start keeping track of them staring in 9th grade.

  • Keep track of every accomplishment/award/extracurricular activity your child receives starting in 8th grade. When they start applying to college, they may not remember what they accomplished in previous years. (Awards can include passing the Ellinomatheia exam, Honor Rolls, NJHS, etc.)

  • Extracurricular activities that show consistent time commitment to a team/club etc. are looked upon highly by colleges. Colleges want to see well-rounded students in addition to good grades and high test scores.


For high school students, grades and other academic measures become very important as they plan for their future after graduation. Over the past few years, North Carolina parents, students and local superintendents have petitioned the State Board of Education (SBE) to require a statewide standard 10-point grading scale for all high school students.


College Prep (CP)

Follows standards specified by the Common Core State Standards and the NC Essential Standard Course of Study (NCSCOS) guidelines.



Surpasses standards specified by the NCSCOS. These courses demand greater independence and responsibility than CP courses. This level or higher is suggested for competitive college admission. Teacher recommendation is usually required.

Advanced Placement (AP)

College-level as adopted by the College Board and prepare students to take the AP examinations which may lead to college credit.


  • Due to State Budget cuts, Driver’s Education (Driver's Ed) may or may not be offered at your home school. 

  • Driver’s Ed can be taken when your child is 14 ½ years old. 

  • Driver’s Ed consists of 30 hours of class time and 6 hours of behind-the-wheel training for students to get their Driving Learner’s Permits at age 15.

  • Contact your home school to find out if they offer Driver’s Ed, your child’s eligibility, cost,  and if he/she can be added to the waiting list.

  • For those students who already are 14 ½ years old, you might be able to take Driver's Ed the summer before school starts. 

  • Driver’s Ed can also be taken through private driving schools, but the fee is higher.