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9th Graders Thrive in Collegiate High at Chattanooga State

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Chattanooga State Community College

In what could be described as a scene out of a CSI television program, high school freshmen in Dr. Roy Sofields Introduction to Biology I BIOL 1010 class recently learned about and eagerly watched a banding process used in DNA testing. Beginning with the Fall 2014 semester, Chattanooga State Community College began accepting high school freshmen into college-level classes along with their fellow sophomore, junior, and senior classmen and they are thriving.

Biology is a required high school class, but of course not every student plans a career in science. The college-level four-credit hour class introduces students to the principles of biology: basic chemistry, macromolecules, cell structure and function, photosynthesis and cellular respiration, cell division, cellular control, Mendelian and molecular genetics, and evolution. Class includes a three-hour lab and two lecture classes each week. The course is four credits but meets for six class hours each week. A recitation class each week (1 hour) is unique to the 9th graders.When asked if the course is modified for use at the high school level, Dr. Sofield responded, No, the content is exactly the same. Students enrolled in BIOL-1010 all learn the same principles, whether they are in 9th grade or not. In this sense, students who are able to take college-level courses while in high school will be ahead of the academic game and well on their way to expedite their education.Students were eager to find out more about the DNA process and were introduced to a scanning procedure that measures how far the DNA molecules have moved within 30 minutes. It is then possible to match up the DNA banding pattern of potential suspects to either rule them out or say with a percentage of accuracy that their DNA is suspect.All students surveyed in Dr. Sofields class enjoy his class, but only two plan careers in science. Pierce Roberts comes from a family of doctors and he wants to become an orthopedic surgeon, while James Helferich likes animals and wants a career in zoology.Nationally, Collegiate High students are some of the most sought-after students. Collegiate High graduates continue their education in colleges and universities across the nation. Ninety percent of Collegiate High graduates transfer to a four-year college or university. Additionally, Collegiate High ACT composite scores continue to rank above the state and national average.The Hamilton County Collegiate High at Chattanooga State is open to all 10th through 12th grade students who have an ACT composite score of 19 or higher. Ninth grade students have an option of scoring a composite score of 19 or higher on the EXPLORE test or scoring a composite score of 19 or higher on the ACT. Collegiate High offers students the opportunity to earn a high school diploma and an associate's degree. Even if students haven't earned an associate's degree by high school graduation, students have earned college credit hours toward a college major of their choice.For more information on Collegiate High, visit or contact Dr. Sonja Rich at (423) 697-4492 or