Yakima Valley College expands Running Start program

High school students can now take college courses over the summer
Yakima Valley College
Credit: Emily Goodell, KAPP-KVEW
Yakima Valley College is participating in a summer Running Start pilot program.

YAKIMA, Wash. — Yakima Valley College has been selected as one of the few colleges in Washington state to participate in a summer Running Start program pilot.

During the regular school year, Running Start allows high school students to take college courses — as long as they meet the prerequisites — on a full-time or part-time basis to fulfill both high school and college course requirements.

“In addition to shortening the time needed to earn a degree, credits earned through Running Start can help students earn a second major, study abroad or complete a graduate degree,” a news release from YVC said.

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This is the first time the program has been extended into the summer and YVC is one of only three colleges that have been invited to join in the pilot program. The two other participating colleges are Skagit Valley College and South Puget Sound Community College.

“Currently, Running Start students cannot access courses during summer quarter without being charged full tuition,” a news release from YVC said. “House Bill 2864 changes that and provides funding for the Summer Running Start pilot.”

The summer pilot program at YVC will be available in June 2021 to students in the Yakima, Granger, Highland, Mabton and Wapato school districts.

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In the news release, Granger High School Principal Mike Carlson said every year, their school counselor works to solve complicated credit situations for students enrolled in the Running Start program.

Carlson said one of the challenges for those students is trying to fulfill both high school and college requirements at the same time, as college terms do not match up with high school terms.

“The flexibility of a summer session for Running Start will make the program more accessible to our students,” Carlson said.

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Running Start also allows students to save thousands of dollars in tuition costs, speeds up the time it takes to get their degree and lets them pursue a second degree or minor degree if they want to.

In the release, YVC Running Start coordinator Hillary Emerson said the primary goal of the program is to see how much interest students have in participating in a program over the summer and to see what barriers there may be to expanding the program.

“By offering Running Start in the summer quarter, students may be able to participate who would be unable to do so during the normal school year because of external barriers,” Emerson said. “We are especially hopeful this shift could increase dual credit access to underserved students.”

Emerson said that Running Start, “can be particularly beneficial in supporting the college aspirations of low-income, first-generation and minority students.”

For more information, visit the Yakima Valley College Running Start website, call 509-574-4970 or email runningstart@yvcc.edu.