Washington State Grants High School Juniors Early Access to College Courses This Summer

Teenagers in Washington State will be able to start college training even earlier this summer.

This is due to a plan pushed by Sen. Brad Hawkins, R-Wenatchee, that makes the state’s well-known Running Start program bigger. Since the early 1990s, Running Start has let juniors and seniors in Washington high schools earn college credit without having to pay fees.

Under Hawkins’ plan, kids who are going to be 11 years old in the fall will be able to take college classes over the summer and earn up to 10 points. Both houses of the legislature quickly passed the bill, and Gov. Jay Inslee signed it into law at the end of March.

Hawkins said in March, “I’ve been calling my bill a ‘Walking Start to Running Start’ because it will help students get out of debt, ease them into college, and get them a little closer to getting their degrees.”

Hawkins told the Standard in an email that the bill will go into effect in June, in time for this year’s 10th-grade seniors to sign up. Wenatchee Valley College, Hawkins’ neighborhood community college, is working on enrollment forms and other information for putting the new law into effect right now.

The head of Wenatchee Valley College, Faimous Harrison, said that the program helps students get ready for college in a less stressful setting and helps them start planning their careers.

Harrison said, “One of the worries about the value of a degree is that so many people go to school, get into a lot of debt, and then can’t find work or aren’t interested in that field.”

“Running Start also makes it possible to explore early on.” “It also gives you the chance to meet new people and learn about new things,” Harrison said.

The new law also says that school districts have to tell students and their families about Running Start summer enrollment options. Students can go to school full-time or part-time, and some even get associate’s degrees by the time they finish high school.

Most of the student’s tuition is paid for by the state and their home school district. However, Running Start students may have to pay for their own supplies, transportation, and other college costs.

Also, the new law makes summer Running Start courses open to more kids. In 2021, 11th and 12th graders could take them through a pilot program run by the state. The study had “promising results:” Colleges that took part recorded an average completion rate of 90% and a retention rate of 87% from summer to fall for Running Start students.

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