The challenges of Running Start students

As the stresses of high school and its impeding graduation approach, Running Start students face the stress of completing their their graudation requirements at Bellevue College.

Maturity levels, due to age differences, vary between high school and college age students. Running Start students tend to categorize themselves in between the high school and college level. BC students who aren’t part of the Running Start program sometimes don’t even recognize those who are because of minimal differences in behavior and classroom conduct. Age doesn’t determine a student’s ability to participate in college level courses effectively.

“For the most part, Running Start students don’t feel any different from a traditional college student in terms of understanding coursework and putting in the effort to work hard,” said Avalon Roe. Roe, a high school junior and part of the Running Start program admitted on the surface that she hasn’t run into that many problems in the classroom. When asked about instructors and peers, she explained that she wasn’t treated any different from traditional college students.

Running Start students have access to many resources, including college fairs, frequent counseling, and courses designed for higher education. Linda Kepler, the BC High School Programs specialist, offered her advice for these students. “The assistance that we render in our office is we will help them look at what their requirements are for high school and help them plan accordingly. Advising plays a big role in that process. Students also seek service through our counseling sometimes because the crossover, or the navigating between the two worlds, sometimes collides.”

“Running start students are navigating two educational worlds—basically the high school and the college. Working towards their high school diploma is the utmost important thing,” Kepler says. “However, they’re also earning college credit that will transfer to their 4-year university or college. So they’re also working on being college or university ready.” Running Start students are left on their own to take the initiate in contacting advisors, filling out for financial aid, paying for tuition, figuring out which classes to take for their intended major or for their technical and associate degrees. The responsibilities lie entirely on the student, as it should be. “Once we become adults, we have to take care of ourselves. There’s no one there to hold our hand like in high school anymore,” said an anonymous college sophomore student.

Elizabeth Tanelian is a junior from Newport High School on her third quarter at BC. She explained students who apply to the Running Start program, must be dedicated and follow their decision to the end. Career Education Options is a program introduced last year for 16 to 20 year olds not enrolled in high school (or without a high school diploma) yet want to get a degree or certificate. This program allows students the option to receive education and job skills at BC however it must be emphasized that they must not be enrolled in a high school. The different cultures between high school and college cause these students to become stuck in a position where they don’t fit into their high school socially and are unprepared for the rigor of college work. In response to the different equivalencies between high school courses and college courses, Kepler stated “a lot of the issue is that not a lot of equivalencies aren’t the same across the board. It’s hard to plan by yourself when you’re not getting the assistance.”

Connor Daw, another Running Start student said, “high school is too immature for us at this point. “Though we don’t intend to, and this is a broad assumption that has its exceptions, we end up judging our high school peers for being not as mature as our college peers.”