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Dual-enrollment goes beyond looking good on paper

Students could consider Running Start for many benefits

Meagen Tajalle, Features Editor
Originally published June 24, 2016

Christine McManigal

Christine McManigal

College-bound students are constantly thinking about what they need to do in order to get into their desired institutions of higher education. This includes taking standardized tests, likely more than once; enrolling in challenging classes, and performing well in those classes; honing writing skills in anticipation of application essays, among many other things. But students shouldn’t forget to prepare themselves in ways that go beyond what looks good on paper.

Running Start, a dual-enrollment program where juniors or seniors take college classes for high school and potentially also college credit, has numerous far-reaching benefits. The biggest draw is that credits earned in high school will count towards high school graduation requirements, and also are guaranteed to transfer to Washington State public four-year universities. This means that students pursuing a four-year degree will spend less time, and far less money, to reach that goal.

Depending on the course load that a student decides to take on, as well as their ratio of high school to college classes, some may even graduate high school early if they begin the program their junior year and plan ahead. Others may complete an Associate’s Degree simultaneously while earning their high school diploma.

The most important thing students will take away from Running Start, though, is the experience of being in a college class. Many students are slammed with the increase in workload their freshman year in college, but Running Start will prepare their expectations of a higher education.

Especially if students opt to take core classes at the college level while in high school, they will get the chance to experience classes ranging in both subject matter and format.

After high school, students will take a variety of classes that are taught in a variety of different ways. Many students will probably need to take lecture style classes that require extensive reading and little to no one-on-one instruction from the teacher, perhaps rarely even receiving instruction from the professor and instead being taught by a Teacher’s Assistant.

It’s important that students are prepared for learning environments that will challenge them, and getting that experience in a high school program before students are paying for classes provides a sort of safety net.

Additionally, since college teachers are unlikely to approach a student who isn’t turning in assignments or who is struggling in the class, students must adjust to become more responsible and proactive. These are necessary characteristics for a college-bound student, and Running Start can serve to help students develop them.

Students prepare for college in a variety of different ways, and will gravitate towards different programs, clubs and activities that may help them get to where they want to be, and will also look good on a resume. This type of preparation is aimed at looking the best they can to admissions offices, but Running Start is a program that will thoroughly prepare students for the academic experiences they’ll have once they begin to attend college.

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Dual-enrollment goes beyond looking good on paper