More than 30 students from Roane County schools will have a chance to graduate from high school with a diploma and a two-year associate degree through Roane State Community College’s first Middle College, which is launching this fall at the main campus in Harriman.
For years, Roane State has offered dual studies courses, which allow high school students to earn some college credit while in high school. Middle College, created in partnership with Roane County Schools, offers students an opportunity to complete 60 hours (four semesters) of college credit, more courses than most students can typically take through dual studies alone.
After earning an associate degree in high school, students who attend a university could start as juniors and finish their bachelor’s degree just two years after high school.
“Putting something together like this is new for all of us,” Roane State President Chris Whaley said. “This great project would not have happened without the support of Director of Schools Gary Aytes.”
Aytes, director of Roane County Schools, congratulated the rising juniors participating in Middle College.
“You are going to get the best of two worlds,” Aytes said. “You get to experience college while still having your high school experiences for your last two years. We’re very, very proud of you, and it’s going to be very exciting when in two years, I get to go to two graduations for you.”
Candidates for Middle College were rising juniors who scored 22 or above on the PLAN test, a pre-test for the ACT. The first class includes 33 students: 12 from Harriman High School, nine from Roane County High School, seven from Midway High School, two from both Oliver Springs High School and Rockwood High School, and one home-schooled student.
“I got the letter, and I just thought it would be really cool to go ahead and have my associate degree when I graduated from high school,” said Josh Workman from Roane County High School. “I’m looking for a challenge and hoping it will be fun to go through it all.”
Workman plans to eventually attend the University of Tennessee or Tennessee Tech. After Middle College, he could start as a junior.
“It’s really exciting, and my parents are all for it,” he said.
Middle College classes are scheduled in the morning, allowing students to return to their high schools in the afternoons for activities such as sports, yearbook, and band.
Whaley urged students to succeed in their courses, enjoy their high school experience, and to embrace being college students.
“You are in college now,” Whaley said. “We have ways for you to get engaged on the college campus. We want you to begin to get the full college experience.”
During the first year, students will take the same general education courses—courses all college students must take—in English, science, math, and additional subjects. During their second year, students may take different classes based on their major. Students in the same major will take the same classes. An advisor and an academic coach will be assigned to work with Middle College students.
Debbie Woody’s niece, Shelby Dunn, is a Middle College scholar from Midway High School. Woody said that her niece “sees this as her only opportunity to be able to go to college.”
“She is extremely excited about this,” Woody said.
Dunn said she is “going to take the opportunity and not give up on it.”
“I’m going to push myself to do it because I know in two years, I’m not going to regret it,” Dunn said. “In two years, I can go into college and start as a junior knowing that I’ll be able to start a career two years earlier. If I want to go two more years to get an even higher degree, I’m always going to be two years ahead.”
For updates on the Middle College program, visit www.roanestate.edu/middlecollege.