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What is Running Start?

Running Start is a statewide partnership between Whatcom Community College and local high schools in Washington. The program allows high school juniors and seniors to attend WCC tuition free and have the credits count for both high school and college credit. College credits are paid for by the school; saving families money as students begin their college careers. The college credits completed in Running Start will transfer to most universities and save the student time, effort and money. Students can select a schedule that works for them and allows them to easily coordinate classes, work, family, faith and other personal commitments.

  • Students may enroll simultaneously in high school and college classes, or solely at the college.
    • WCC offers day, evening, and online courses
  • Students receive both high school and college credit for classes completed at the college.
  • Students do not need the permission of the high school to enroll in the program, the student and parents make this choice.

Students can still participate in athletics, clubs and be involved in their high school as much as they choose. Additionally, there is a vibrant college experience for them through Running Start; students can participate in clubs, events and activities at WCC - most at no additional cost to the student.


5 Steps to Enroll in Running Start

Step1. Attend an Information Session View our Information Session (optional)

The information session is an opportunity to learn what it's like to be a Running Start student. Get all your questions answered in order to make an informed decision about whether or not this program is right for you. 

Participation in Running Start requires that students be of high school junior or senior standing and complete a series of steps outlined at Admission. Information Sessions are held throughout the year; dates and times are available in the Events box.  

During the uncertain times caused by COVID-19, we are providing the Information Session in a format that allows for Social Distancing. The Information Session is available to be viewed online by clicking here.

Throughout the recording, we will refer to this handout: [Document link]

Step 2. Be Admitted to Running Start. Apply to Running start

Apply Here

Students interested in Running Start should apply to Running Start.  Information related to next steps will then be emailed to you.

Homeschool and Private School Students:

Home schooled and private school students are also eligible for Running Start and must enroll with their public high school to receive Running Start funding. The school district will determine the process for enrollment and grade level. Home schooled students are not required or expected to pursue the diploma from the school district but are still required to meet quarterly with the high school contact for funding purposes.

English Language Learners (ELL):

Students who have been enrolled in ELL or ESL classes in high school are also eligible for Running Start. Call the Running Start office at 360.383.3123 for information.

Step3 Meet with your High School Contact

Each quarter students will meet with their high school contact to ensure that they are on track for graduation. Students will discuss remaining high school graduation requirements and touch base to make sure Running Start is working for them. Both the high school and college have resources to help students know what classes satisfy their high school graduation requirements making it easy to plan for high school graduation! 

During the high school closures caused by COVID-19, some school contacts may not be available. Whatcom will allow students impacted by these closures to participate in Running Start. Students will be informed about these processes at Admission.

Step 4. Register and Pay for WCC Classes Step5 

Registration, Orientation, Payment

Running Start provides tons of class options; you can take morning, day-time, afternoon, evening or online courses in nearly every subject imaginable. To ensure that students are selecting classes that align with their goals, Running Start students are required to meet with both their high school contact and a WCC Advisor every quarter. Your high school contact will ensure you are on track for high school graduation. The WCC Advisor will discuss quarterly classes, credit equivalencies, transferring to a university, long term career goals and most importantly, high school graduation! 

WCC is committed to your success. To help with the adjustment, WCC requires that all new students attend orientation.  At orientation, students will learn how to be successful in the college environment, take a tour of campus, register for classes and be connected with resources designed to help them be successful. Additionally, the Running Start Office is open year round to support students, answer questions and ensure that students are successful.

Click here for additional information about Wave New Student Orientation.

Running start is NOT free. The cost will vary based on many factors. Information about program costs is available by clicking here.