return to the Update

Running Start Information Night – Tuesday, April 24th - designed for High School Students and Their Parents

Open the door to learning about Washington State’s Dual Enrollment Program at a Running Start Information Night formatted for high school students and their parents. This event begins at 6:00pm Tuesday, April 24 at the Skagit Valley College - San Juan Center in Friday Harbor, 221 Weber Way.

Washington State’s Running Start Program allows 11th and 12th grade students to take college-level courses, tuition-free, at any of State’s 34 community and technical colleges, and at four of the baccalaureate institutions. Running Start is one of the most readily available college-level learning opportunities in the state.  National research indicates that dual enrollment programs provide increased challenges and motivation for students in their final two-years of high school.  In addition, participating in Running Start reduces the amount of time students spend in school and can reduce overall college costs for students and their families.

The 1990 Legislature created Running Start as a part of the “Learning by Choice” Law, which was designed to expand educational options for students. To initiate the program in 1990, the Legislature authorized a two-year pilot program. Five community colleges were selected to participate during 1990-92 (Everett, Pierce, Skagit Valley, South Puget Sound and Walla Walla Community Colleges).

In 2005-06, Running Start completed its 15th year as a successful and popular program for eligible high school juniors and seniors. Enrollment totaled 16,540 individual students (equal to 10,284 full-time students), an increase of about 3 percent over the previous year when 16,022 students (9,794 FTE) participated. The program continues to serve about 10 percent of the state’s juniors and seniors.

In San Juan County, approximately 25-30 students have participated in the Running Start program, this 2006-2007 Academic Year, taking classes at Skagit Valley College, Whatcom Community College or Everett Community College earning them credit toward high school diplomas at Friday Harbor High School, Orcas High School and Lopez High School. Home-School students, residing in San Juan County, can also be counted among the number of students who have participated in this program.

Washington State’s Running Start program was highlighted in The American Youth Policy Forum’s publication, “The College Ladder: Linking Secondary and Postsecondary Education for Success for All Students”. This publication includes best practices of programs, schools and policies, around the country, that allow high school students to take college-level courses. It has been documented that students in these programs excel with higher graduation rates and greater success in college. The American Youth Policy Forum is a Washington, DC-based nonprofit, nonpartisan professional development organization.

The April 24th Running Start Information Night, which is being hosted by the San Juan Center, Director Denise King, will provide an overview of the Washington State’s Dual Enrollment Program and will have Skagit Valley College’s Running Start Advisor, Nancy McHale, on-hand to answer questions. A high light of the evening will be a panel of current dual enrollment high school students and their parents sharing their personal experiences with the program.