Washington’s Running Start Program Gives High School Students a Head Start into Higher Education

By Erin Freeman | Lynnwood Times

March 9 update: EvCC is following the Snohomish Health District recommendation to avoid holding non-essential large public gatherings. As a result, we regret to announce that the March 30 Running Start information information session has been cancelled.

On Monday, March 2, Everett Community College held an information session for prospective running start students. 

Running start is a Washington State program, allowing high school juniors and seniors to take tuition-free courses at one of the state’s 34 community and technical colleges. Students receive both high school and college credit for the classes they enroll in, accelerating them through higher education. 

Students receive one high school credit for every five credits earned at the college, taking between one to 15 credits every quarter. High school counselors work with prospective students to determine their eligibility for part-time or full-time enrollment. 12 to 15 credits is considered full-time, commonly equating to three courses.  

“Students are taking more intense classes in a shorter amount of time,” explained Running Start program coordinator, Ozge Demirci-Richardson. “It’s important that students find balance because it’s a fast-paced environment.”

Full-time students entering the program as juniors can graduate simultaneously with their high school diploma and associate degree, allowing them to decide between transferring with third year standing to an accredited university in the state or entering straight into the workforce. 

Running Start allows students to save up to two years of higher education tuition. Reflecting a Washington resident’s estimated cost for 2019-20 full-time enrollment at Everett Community College, classes are priced around $500 each, with annual tuition at $4,572. The school also recommends that students budget an additional $2,000 for books, supplies, and transportation. While running start students and their families do not pay tuition, they are responsible for paying for mandatory class fees, textbooks, and transportation. Based on income-eligibility, the state will waive these additional fees.

Running Start was first introduced to the state more than two decades ago, with program participation steadily increasing since. Everett Community College’s program currently serves 57 high schools in 25 different school districts. 

“In 2018 and 2019 we had over 1,600 running start students, with over 250 high school seniors earning their high school diploma with their associate degree,” said Demirci-Richardson. 

Everett Community College’s upcoming running start information sessions will be held March 9, March 30, and April 13 in the Jackson Conference Center Rm. 106 from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Erin Freeman

I graduated from Washington State University in 2019 with a Bachelor of Arts in English with a specialization in rhetoric and professional writing. I also received a minor in political science. I joined the Lynnwood Times in February of 2020. To me, community newspapers affirm a sense of community by connecting people through the coverage of local stories and current events.

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