Start Running with Free Tuition!

All 34 Community Colleges in Washington State offer Running Start, a program that gives high school juniors and seniors a way to earn college credit, tuition-free.

With so many options for classes at the high school, many students wonder what the right option is for them. One option is to take the opportunity to earn college credits while in high school. There are many different ways to do this: Running Start, Sno-Isle Skill Center, College in the High School, CTE Dual Credits, and Advanced Placement classes. This article will detail the first of them: Running Start.

Running Start is available for any student in their junior or senior year. Students can choose to go to any of the 34 community colleges in Washington during their school year and choose their classes instead of, or as well as, AHS classes.

Advantages of Running Start

The main advantage of Running Start over regular high school is that students can earn “Dual Credit”. This means that for every class they take at a community college, they earn a high school credit and a college credit. Every year, people from Arlington High School use Running Start to get their Associates Degree and high school diploma.

Running Start students also get access to many of the luxuries that normal community college students enjoy. Arantxa Gallegos, a Running Start coordinator at Everett Community College, said students get access to Everett’s, “Walter Price Fitness Center, library, computer labs, Tutoring and Writing Center, advisors, and so much more!”

Also, as David Ott, Kamiak HS graduate of 2016 and University of Washington transfer student, said, “meeting new people at the community college is really fun and a little nerve racking but it’s worth it!” While you may not see your current friends as much, you can still keep in contact with them, while meeting new ones, all at the same time.

Decisions, Decisions

A community college is separated into four quarters instead of the high school’s semesters. Each class, for one quarter at a community college will give the student a full year of high school credit. This mean that if you want to be at the community college for all of your classes, you can earn 9 high school credits in one year!

However, if you don’t want to only be at a community college all day, or just want to have some classes at the high school with your friends, you can do part-time Running Start. This means that you will go to a community college for part of your day and be at the high school for the rest. Students do best if they find a balance of high school and community college credits that works for them.

“Part-time Running Start students usually take 5-12 college credits and 3-4 classes at their high school,” said Gallegos. Students who do part-time Running Start normally will get a minimum of 6 high school credits per year, the same as normal high school.

A new environment

According to Lisa Sullivan, a counselor at AHS, it is recommended for students to be, “ready to move beyond high school,” and begin the “next chapter” of their life. An example of this is managing your money.

Although this program has no tuition fees, students have to pay around $250 per quarter for textbooks and other odds and ends. Students must manage their money wisely to pay for their various costs. This is, however, much better than the average $565 per quarter that adult community college students have to pay.


Everett Community College, which is the school that most Running Start students from Arlington choose to go to, offers a program called the Ocean Research College Academy, or ORCA. ORCA is a course that is for students in Running Start that want to study Marine Biology. Many people in this program get their Associates’ Degree if they attend.

According to ORCA, students who attend their program, “distinguish themselves as scholarship recipients, interns, and are sought-after at the university level.” Look here for more information.

College in the High School

Another option is to earn college credits in the high school instead of or before Running Start. Students can do this by taking CTE Dual Credit or College in the High School classes such as college writing, accounting and Start Your Own Business, or  Advanced Placement, such as AP Psychology and AP Computer Science.


One way to prepare for Running Start is to get P.E. credits and language credits before Running Start so you have more class opportunities to take at a community college.

The most important way to prepare is to do your best in your current classes. The better you do, the higher chance you have at getting into Running Start!

If you are interested, talk to your counselor this Spring and apply by May 1, 2018! Visit here for more information.