Running Start lets WA high schoolers explore college courses
Monday, November 27, 2023
A program giving high school students a taste of college and college credits along the way is celebrating its 33rd year of operation in Washington state.
The Running Start program offers 11th and 12th graders an opportunity to take college courses at the state's 34 community and technical colleges and three of its universities.
Julie Garver, director of policy and academic affairs for the Washington State Council of Presidents, which represents universities, said the program eases the transition to college-level learning.
"By being able to explore those things within high school, which is a safer environment or within those contexts, then students are able not only to get the confidence but to get those skills," Garver outlined. "They are not surprised and learning that transition while they're also taking college courses when they're at one of our campuses."
More than 27,000 high school students were enrolled in Running Start at community and technical colleges in the past academic year.
Jamie Traugott, director of dual credit and strategic enrollment initiatives for the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, said students in the program report feeling better prepared for the next step in their academic careers.
"The confidence of being able to complete a college-level class, but then really to be like, 'OK, I did this. What else can I get involved with?'" Traugott noted. "Or, 'Maybe, I thought I would go to a community technical college, but I never considered that I could also transfer to a four-year institution.'"
Traugott added the program has been helpful for the students who are able to access it but there is still more work to do to close equity gaps in enrollment.
Support for this reporting was provided by Lumina Foundation.
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