Running Start is a program for high school juniors and seniors who want a head start in their post-secondary education. With the proper plan in place, you can earn a two-year degree and your high school diploma in one fell swoop.
It was early in my freshman year when I decided that high school was not my scene. I’ve never understood the “high school experience,” and I could not wait for the opportunity to do Running Start. A few peers of mine made this step alongside me, and found that there was little to no help to be found at my high school when it came time to apply. Most staff members and students were unfamiliar with the application process. I had to exercise some major independence (which is an asset that serves Running Start students well) and eventually made it on my own. Since a nod in the right direction is always helpful, I have here what I’ve learned about this process.
Weigh Your Options
The first step of this grueling process is to notify your academic counselor of your decision to do Running Start. They may have some information for you, and you’ll need to gather some paperwork from them later on. Make sure you know which college you wish to attend; in Spokane, our options are:
- Spokane Falls Community College (SFCC)
- Spokane Community College (SCC)
- Eastern Washington University (EWU)
When deciding which college, think of everything!
- What will your commute look like?
- Can you afford to drive back and forth every day or will you need to take the bus?
- Does your college offer the classes you are interested in taking?
- If you choose to do part-time Running Start or are an athlete, will you be able to make it back in time for your classes or sports at the high school?
- Do they offer online classes that you can work on at home?
Talk to your parents and counselor and decide which options suit you best.
Find The Applications
After you know where you want to go, look into their applications. Visit the website of the college of your choice and find the Running Start page. Here, you will likely find a link to an online or a downloadable PDF application for admission. Each college’s application process is a little different, so be attentive to what your needs are when filling out paperwork. SFCC and SCC are both online applications, but you must select “Running Start” as your admit type. EWU’s application requires a counselor’s signature to verify grade level.
With all of these schools, you MUST apply by August 28th, 2020, in order to be enrolled in this upcoming fall quarter. However, do not wait until August to start worrying about applying. Apply as soon as possible!
Get Your Transcripts
Next, get your high school transcript from your counselor. Ask for him or her to email it to you, and always have a print copy at home. If you have participated in AP or college classes at your high school, like the College in the Classroom program for history or math, you will have to obtain your transcript from that college, as well. This will cost anywhere from $5 to $15; make sure you get it after completing your course so you don’t have to pay twice. Email your transcripts to the email address outlined on your college’s website. They will review your transcript and let you know if you have been accepted.
Orientation and Advisement
If you are accepted, congratulations! The stressful part is mostly over. Your next step will be to attend an orientation. These fill up quickly and the rest of this process rides solely on this orientation. These take place on different days throughout the summer and depend on the college you are attending. When you go to this orientation, bring your Enrollment Verification Form (EVF) with you. When you reach this point in the Running Start admissions process, you will need to be familiar with this. An EVF can be picked up from your counselor when you ask about transcripts. You, your counselor, and your parents will need to sign an EVF every quarter in order to enroll in classes. At your orientation, you will hand in this form, and the Running Start coordinators will walk you through the class selection process, campus information, and answer any questions you may have.
Just like the orientation, your academic advising appointment is critical. The contact information for an academic counselor will be on your college’s website. This appointment will help you navigate which classes you need to finish your high school requirements and complete your degree. Most students opt for an AA degree, which is widely transferable should you decide to continue at a four-year university after graduation. Some choose to earn their pre-nursing certificate. It depends on your future plans. You are allowed up to 15 credits of tuition-free classes per quarter. If you qualify for Free & Reduced Lunch, you may be eligible for 20 credits. Those who qualify are also eligible for a fee waiver and textbook voucher, depending on your college. Know what to ask before you get to the office for your scheduled appointment.
After you’ve been accepted, turned in your paperwork, and attended both an orientation and an advising appointment, you should be comfortable with getting answers to your own questions and knowing where to find information. Look for information about:
- Getting a parking pass
- Purchasing your textbooks (look online for deals! You can save a lot of money by looking for books outside of your college’s bookstore)
- Acquiring a student ID (which doubles as a bus pass)
- Familiarizing yourself with your campus
Running Start is a big step for most high schoolers. My advice, as a Running Start student, is to stay disciplined. Heading into my third quarter as a part of this program, I’m halfway done with my AA degree and Associate’s in Mathematics Education. I have a blast during my carpool to Spokane Falls every day with a close friend, play school sports, and stay involved with school clubs. Running Start students must learn to juggle a lot of responsibilities in a lot of different areas, and this comes with such great benefit. Applying and getting started wasn’t simple, but giving up would have closed the door to so many of the opportunities and friendships I’ve been faced with thus far.
Talk to your parents, do some research, and make a plan. Try to have a friend alongside you who is applying as well. Don’t wait. Go online and make the first steps today.