FAQ About Running Start

The following are frequently asked questions about the Running Start program. If you have additional questions, please contact us at runningstart@clark.edu

How does the program work?

Running Start is a program approved by the Washington State Legislature in 1990, which allows eligible high school juniors and seniors to challenge themselves academically by taking classes at a community college. Students receive both high school and college credits for successfully completed classes. Students are limited to college-level classes (numbered 100 and higher) and must live in Washington.

Running Start students must complete an Enrollment Verification Form each quarter, have it signed by their high school counselor and parent, and bring it to the Running Start office or the Columbia Tech Center.  This is an important step because that’s how the tuition gets billed to the public high school.  Running Start students attend regular Clark classes during the day or in the evening, along with other college students.

Enrollment at Clark College creates an official college transcript which is considered confidential information and released to no one, including parents, without the student’s permission. At the end of each quarter, grades are sent to the high school and count toward the high school GPA. Credits also apply to high school graduation requirements according to individual school district policy. College credit is granted upon completion of the course requirements, and these credits normally transfer to most colleges and universities. 

How do I know if Running Start is right for me?

Running Start is not for everyone. It requires college-level skills and college-level maturity. Successful Running Start students are generally self-motivated, emotionally mature, and looking for additional academic challenges. They also have excellent study and time management skills. The college is an adult environment and there may be topics of an adult nature discussed in the classroom. Subject matter will not be changed because there are minors in the classroom.

What classes can I take?

Running Start students can choose from a full range of academic and professional/technical courses as long as they are college-level (numbered 100 or higher) and the qualifying criteria are met. High school counselors know which courses at Clark are accepted by the high school to meet specific graduation requirements, such as junior English or senior social studies.

How do I know which classes at Clark apply toward my high school graduation requirements?

 

High school counselors can answer this question when you meet with him/her to “forecast” for your Running Start classes. Different schools accept different courses from Clark to meet specific requirements, such as CWP/CWI or Senior English. It is critical that you work with your high school counselor to make sure that you are meeting your high school graduation requirements. You need to meet with your high school counselor every quarter that you are in Running Start to complete an Enrollment Verification Form, even if you are home-schooled. On this form, the high school counselor will indicate what specific graduation requirement each course meets, even if it is an elective.

What does it cost to be in Running Start?

Running Start is not 100% free. Running Start students pay for books, transportation, and some miscellaneous class fees. Fee waivers are available for those meeting specific criteria for financial need. The tuition is paid by the school district based on the formula on the Enrollment Verification Form which must be signed by your high school counselor each quarter. Running Start only covers a specific number of credits, dependent upon how many classes you are taking at your high school or the Skills Center. Running Start will not pay for courses numbered below 100.

How do I qualify for the fee waiver?

Acceptable documentation must include the student's name and may include, but is not limited to, documents which prove any of the following:

  • Proof of eligibility for free or reduced-priced lunch in the last five years
  • Proof that the student's family is receiving state or federal assistance funds, such as food stamps (EBT) or State medical benefits
  • Proof of being a foster youth
  • Proof of Social Security benefits

Students only need to provide documentation to the Running Start office once to qualify for the waiver. Students must supply waiver documentation before the first day of the quarter or before their payment due date, whichever comes first. If fees are paid prior to turning in documentation, there will be no refunds issued. Adjustments to a student's quarterly bill can only take effect after the Enrollment Verification Form (EVF) is submitted to the Running Start office each quarter. Students must pay any remaining fees or charges by the payment due date. Tuition for credits that exceed the credit allowance according to the EVF are waived.

Can I receive financial aid to cover the cost of books?

No. Running Start students cannot receive financial aid while in the Running Start program. However, Running Start students can apply on the FAFSA during their senior year for financial assistance after they graduate from high school if they plan to continue at Clark or transfer to another college after high school.

Can home-schooled and private-schooled students participate in Running Start?

Yes. You must enroll through a local public high school in Washington and must be considered a junior or senior. You do not have to attend classes in the public high school in order to participate in Running Start, but you must have an Enrollment Verification Form signed by the appropriate high school counselor or designee each quarter.

How is junior or senior standing determined for home-schooled students who want to participate in Running Start?

It is the responsibility of the school district to establish grade placement criteria for home-schoolers who want to access Running Start. Some schools consider age appropriateness; others review credits and prior learning. In other cases, a standardized achievement test may be used in the absence of adequate documentation of a student’s home-based education.

What are the deadlines for Running Start?

You must bring a completed Enrollment Verification Form to the Running Start office or the Columbia Tech Center before the payment deadline each quarter. Typically these forms are due in November, February, and May.

How many quarters can I be in Running Start?

Eligible students can participate for a maximum of 6 quarters (Fall, Winter, and Spring quarters of the junior and senior years). In accordance with state rules, there is no Running Start in the Summer quarter. If you want to attend Summer Quarter, you must pay your own tuition.

Is it possible to obtain both a high school diploma and a college associate degree after completing two years in the Running Start program?

Yes, it is possible to graduate from high school with an Associate Degree at the same time. More than 350 Running Start students graduate from Clark every year with an A.A. Degree at the same time they graduate from high school. You would need to average 15 credits per quarter for six quarters to accomplish this. It takes careful planning, so be sure to ask the Running Start office at Clark College for advising help toward an A.A. degree. If you do not plan to graduate from a public high school, you have the option of asking the college to issue a State of Washington high school diploma upon completion of an associate degree.

Who should contact the Running Start office?

The students! Communication is expected from the students, not their parents. Running Start students will be treated the same as all other college students. They are expected to be responsible for all communication from the colleges and their high school, and need to make sure they are on track to graduate from their high school.

How safe is the Clark campus for underage students?

Your personal safety is important to Clark College.  The Security/Safety Department is staffed on the main campus 24 hours a day/365 days a year. Columbia Tech Center (CTC) has a security officer assigned Mon.-Thurs. from 6:30 am to 10:30 pm, Fridays 7 am to 4 pm, and Saturdays from 8 am to 5 pm.  The staff work to ensure a safe environment in which members of the college community can pursue their educational goals.  The Clery Act requires colleges to report crime incidents on campus and issue timely warnings of criminal activity to the campus community.  Statistics about crimes on campus can be found by going to the Security Information website.

The Security/Safety Department provides the following services for students:

Safety patrols of campus
Free wrist coiled whistle bracelet
Escorts to cars and buildings upon request
Motorist assistance for lockouts and jumpstarts
Emergency phones on campus (CTC)
Enforcement of parking/traffic regulations
Notification to students about Level 3 sex offenders who are enrolled
Daily Crime Log on Security web site
Timely warnings about an ongoing or continuing threat
Annual Crime Report
Crime prevention presentations upon request

For further information about the Security/Safety Department, please see the website at www.clark.edu/security