University of Washington in the High Schools becomes free

College classes taught in BHS classrooms will have no financial barrier for the 2023-2024 school year


Hazel Engstrom

Senate Bill 5048, which was signed into law on May 4, eliminates the fees from “College in the High School” programs like UWHS starting during the 2023-2024 school year.

Hazel Engstrom, Copy Editor

2023 marks 41 years of University of Washington in the High Schools (UWHS), an affiliate program of the University of Washington (UW), that has presented high school students across Washington state the opportunity to take UW classes from their high school campuses.
Through the program, students can receive college credits, a greater variety of challenging courses and even the opportunity to graduate early based on the amount of credits they amass.
While UWHS courses have been offered at a discounted rate, historically students have still been charged both a registration fee and a course fee per credit they take.
These financial barriers may have discouraged some students from signing up for more advanced courses, explained UWHS, and language arts teacher Kristina Katrel.
“We’ve never denied a student the course because they couldn’t pay,” Katrel said. “However, I’m sure there are kids who don’t sign up because they’re worried about the pay but they just don’t tell anybody.”
Annaik Sturgeon, a UWHS and French teacher, explained that paying for a course you are not guaranteed success in can be a major deterrent.
“For some students it is not necessarily the financial barrier,” Sturgeon said. “It’s more about having the confidence to take [a] risk and spend money on a course they could potentially do poorly in.”
Senate Bill 5048, which was signed into law on May 4, eliminates the fees from “College in the High School” programs like UWHS starting during the 2023-2024 school year. For teachers like Sturgeon and Katrel, this change is welcome in its continuation of student access to rigorous academic programs.
“I’m so excited because there has also been another huge change in the legislature,” Katrel said. “Essentially [Washington State] wants to require all graduating students to take one college course in English and math.”
Katrel explained that by making UWHS courses free, students will be able to better meet these new graduation requirements and get their now required college credits through UW as opposed to a community college. Talisman has contacted the Executive Director of College and Career Readiness at Seattle Public Schools and has not received a response prior to the printing of this issue.
Alex Bullock, a junior in Sturgeon’s French 103 French 3 (a UWHS class) explained that taking French through the program has been invaluable, and worth the fee she paid.
“We’re getting graded by our teacher here,” Bullock said. “So it’s just way less stress, a calm environment that allows us to get the credit that we need for a much lower cost than at the actual college.”
Hadley Redmond, another junior in the class, shared a similar sentiment as Bullock.
“Considering the cost of it, a normal college class can cost over $1,000 or something like that,” Redmond said. “So cost-wise, I think it’s really good.”
While both Redmond and Bullock were enthusiastic about the prospect of the course becoming free, they still agreed that they found the course to be worth what they paid.
“It’s just been really nice, if I had to take it again, and it wasn’t free, I think I would still pay for it,” Redmond said.
Sturgeon explained that another benefit of UWHS is that unlike other advanced courses offered at BHS, the UWHS French program integrates students taking the course for college credit and those taking the course regularly, effectively giving students until October to determine if they want to sign up to take the final test to receive college credit or not.
“I teach the UW in the High School curriculum to all my students so I don’t have to differentiate so much, and everybody gets the benefit,” Sturgeon said.
Katrel also praised the UWHS courses in their ability to help foster student success in a more comprehensive way, allowing those taking a course leeway to score poorly in the beginning of the year, yet still receive college credit if they are able to grow and improve their scores throughout it.
“It’s not that college credit does not rely on passing a test,” Katrel said. “However, it is built into the teachers framework so that you work with your teacher to build up to the stage where you can receive college credit. It’s a lot of teacher management to make sure that student ultimately passes.”
Solenne Daout, a freshman in Sturgeon’s UWHS French 103, explained that for students, the extra work done by UWHS teachers makes the opportunity to take more advanced classes much more inviting.
“You have a longer amount of time to learn this stuff,” Daout said. “To learn the material, you do it all throughout the whole year, but in college, it’s like you do it for one quarter or one semester.”
Daoutt explained that she and her peers in UWHS French 103 French 3 are currently preparing to take the final exam for the class.
“At times it’s been kind of hard,” Doubt said. “But I think that overall it’s totally been worth it.”