Is Running Start Right for You?

The decision to start college early or stay in high school is an important one. Frequently a student can be academically prepared for college-level classes, but may find the emotional or social demands overwhelming. The most successful college students are highly motivated individuals who work independently, take initiative, have good study skills, are self-disciplined and are able to complete a variety of assignments with little direction from instructors. Students and parents should consider carefully whether Running Start appropriately meets the student's needs. Benefits

Tuition for Running Start classes is free (up to a maximum of 1.2 FTE combined enrollment between the high school and college). Students and parents can save up to two years of college tuition costs.

Students have the opportunity to take a wide variety of classes that may not be offered at their high school.

Students can earn up to two years of college credit during high school to get a “Running Start” on their college education. Students can plan a program of study that will transfer to baccalaureate institutions or apply to professional technical education.

Students have an opportunity to experience college classes while still in high school. This experience can be helpful in making the transition from home to college away from home and in making future educational plans. Students may continue to participate in high school sports and activities.

Academically qualified students have the opportunity to take more challenging or advanced courses. Highly motivated, mature students may thrive in the college environment.

A diverse college student population provides for a rich classroom learning environment.
Students are regular college students with the same rights and responsibilities. Students may participate in college clubs, music and drama activities, intramural sports and programs and may use campus services; however, Running Start students are not eligible to participate on college sports teams and are not eligible for financial aid.

Students have an opportunity to enroll in both academic transfer and professional technical skills classes with outstanding college faculty. Students have access to instruction using state-of-the-art technology.


Students, parents, and counselors should carefully consider the student’s maturity level when discussing the possibility of participating in Running Start. Some students who are academically ready may find the required independence and speed of college classes overwhelming.

Socialization may be an issue with some students. High schools provide a social network and experiences geared toward teenagers. The average age of Olympic College students is twenty-five and such experiences are not as readily available at the college. Full-time Running Start students may particularly feel a loss of social connection with peers.

Transportation arrangements and costs, book purchases, and class fees are the responsibility of the student.

The scheduling of college classes may conflict with high school classes or extracurricular activities.

The college operates on the quarter system and most high schools operate on the semester system. Transition to college or back to high school winter or spring quarter may be difficult because of the difference in academic calendars. Holiday and vacation periods may also be different.

Students may be exposed to alternative view points and material of an adult nature in college classes.

Students are not guaranteed enrollment in classes they want. Students may encounter limitations with regard to class availability for the first quarters of enrollment and must be flexible when scheduling classes.

Grades in college courses are recorded on the high school transcript and become a part of the student’s permanent record at Olympic College. Low grades or failure to complete courses may jeopardize high school graduation, admission to another college or other future educational plans.