Running Start classes available over summer

Skagit Valley College is launching a summer pilot program for high schoolers to earn college credit.

Dual credit education program Running Start is now available over the summer through a Skagit Valley College pilot program.

Partnering with school districts in Skagit, Island and San Juan counties, the college will allow up to 250 high school juniors and seniors to enroll in summer college courses, which will begin in July. Skagit Valley College is the only institution of higher education in the state to participate in this pilot program.

Running Start has existed for decades, allowing high schoolers to earn college credits or even associate degrees during high school, but this is the first year the program has been available over the summer, thanks to HB 2864.

The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Dave Paul, D-Oak Harbor, in the 2020 legislative session, created the summer pilot program.

“I sponsored HB 2864 because Running Start is a proven, cost-effective program that helps high school students earn college credit faster,” Paul, who is also director of community relations at Skagit Valley College, said in a recent college press release.

“Our students should have the opportunity to earn credit even if their high school is not in session.”

Paul told the News-Times that online and in-person summer classes will be available through both the Mt. Vernon and Whidbey Island campuses.

Paul estimated between one third and one half of the college’s regular classes are offered during the summer, with summer options including allied health, culinary arts, multimedia interactive technology and more.

Oak Harbor High School senior Abigail Correa-Cruz has participated in Running Start for the past two school years.

The soon-to-be graduate and girls wrestling team captain said she took a wide variety of classes through the program, with course subjects ranging from nutrition to computers to global issues.

Though Correa-Cruz still isn’t sure what she wants to do with her future, she said Running Start has “broadened my horizons.”

“It has really calmed my nerves about college and about finding something that I can do in the future, and it has offered me connections to other people and other things that I can explore,” she said, adding that she is interested in participating in the summer program to finish up her associate degree.

Continuing Running Start students can register for the summer pilot program now. Summer registration for new students opens May 19.