Running Start grads: Apply as freshmen or transfer?

On the first day of fall quarter at Bellevue College this year a new group of Running Start students excitedly walked through the courtyard for the first time, while the old ones meandered to their classes like the rest of the BC students around them. It was time for them to decide whether they were going to apply to college during fall quarter as freshmen or send in transfer applications later in the year.

Most universities in Washington and many in Oregon do accept Running Start credit and recommend that Running Start students apply as freshmen. Some students, however, prefer acquiring their associates degree or staying at BC for another quarter or two after they graduate from high school before moving on. Both of these options have advantages and disadvantages that every student should consider.

One of the many problems with applying as a freshman is that everything must be done earlier. The college essay or personal statement, letters of recommendation, transcripts, SAT scores and more must all be sent to the universities students want to apply to by January at the latest. After submitting all the information, those students must wait until April or May to be informed of whether they got in or not. This accelerated process is stressful and can impact the student’s performance in academics and other activities.

While this process is stress-inducing, it has its advantages. First of all, the student can transfer all of their credits and still be treated as a freshman when they get accepted to a university. This means that they can go to freshman orientation and will have more help in important aspects of their university education like selecting a major, finding a place to live, going through the process of transferring their credits and many more. Additionally, freshman students will have the same amount of time to declare a major with or without Running Start credit, which is advantageous for those who are still in the process of deciding their academic path.

The transfer process is a little different. Running Start students will need to either take all of the classes required for their Associates degree in their two years at BC or they will need to take one more quarter’s worth of BC classes before being eligible to fill out a transfer application. Because of this, a transfer application will take much longer and the student may be wasting an entire quarter taking classes they don’t really need to take. Additionally, transferring Running Start credits may be more complicated, as they were technically earned in high school and the applicant didn’t apply as a freshman. They might also have to choose a major earlier than they would like.

The benefits of this process, however, is that it is less stressful because transfer applicants get accepted often.

University of Washington Bothell and University of Washington Tacoma accept all transfer students as long as their GPA is high enough and have completed core subject requirements in their previous college classes. Because of this, applicants can focus more on their current schoolwork and activities.

While both of these options have different requirements and advantages, the individual student must decide which option they prefer. The freshman application is more advantageous to the student after they start attending a university, while the transfer application works better for those who need a little bit more time to apply. Either way, it is important to look at all the facts on the college websites and application formats before deciding on one option, as policies differ from school to school.