Last updated on February 8, 2016
By: Jessica Peña, Staff Writer
There will be 11 Middle College students graduating in the spring semester with an associate degree from Volunteer State Community College.
The Middle College High School is a preparatory curriculum for juniors and seniors in high school seeking to earn both a high school diploma and an associate degree, or up to two years of credit toward a bachelor degree.
The Sumner County schools involved in the middle college program are E.B. Wilson Virtual School, the Middle Technical College in Portland, the University Experience at Union University, and the Middle College High School at Vol State.
In the shift from high school to college courses, MCHS students are exposed to a new environment with an increased workload that will challenge their minds and benefit their academic credentials by the time they graduate.
“Some students do not understand the rigor they face in a college class as opposed to a high school class,” said Betsy Hunter, Principal of the Middle College.
“Some of that rigor comes from the fact that the class meets only two days a week and the student is responsible to spend time out of class working on the class material, as opposed to high school where the class meets five days a week with some outside work,” said Hunter.
Hunter said she believed that students who are regularly responsible with their schooling work hard and transition without a problem, and the students who are procrastinators often encounter issues adjusting to the program.
“Being a self-starter and responsible are important characteristics for success in the MCHS program, often more important than a high ACT score,” added Hunter.
To qualify for the MCHS program, Hunter explains that students must have a composite score of 19 on the ACT along with subtest minimums of 18 in English, 19 in math and 19 in reading.
Book and tuition fees are paid for by Sumner County Schools, who also provide free and reduced lunch to eligible students.
According to the Sumner County Schools web page, the program makes it a priority to serve low-income young people, first-generation college goers, English language learners, students of color, and non-traditional students.
Autumn Hemmelgarn is a student enrolled in the middle college program at Vol State. She said she is taking six courses on campus this semester and is no stranger to the change from a traditional high schooler.
“Well, the first thing I noticed was that there is no drama or social cliques whatsoever. You can come in and do what you have to do without those distractions,” said Hemmelgarn.
Hemmelgarn explained that the professors at Vol State care more for the students’ well being and go out of their way to assist when needed, unlike her previous school’s teachers.
“I decided to take six classes this semester because I am used to a heavy workload and also because I’ve taken many honors courses in high school. So I guess you could say I am comfortable with the transition,” added Hemmelgarn.
Hemmelgarn is applying to numerous colleges in California and said she hopes to get into Stanford University to pursue a degree in law.
The Middle College High School will continue to increase its enrollment and graduation rates while giving students the reward of a successful college career.