Lower Columbia College | Frequently Asked Questions

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Frequently Asked Questions about Running Start

Contact Us
LCC Running Start Office
Marcy Gilchrist
Running Start Coordinator

Toll Free 1.866.900.2311
Fax 360.442.2479
Location: Student Center, second floor, across from the student computers; please refer to the Campus Map
Mon-Fri: 8 am to 5 pm

What is Running Start ?

Running Start is a program approved by the Washington State legislature which allows qualifying high school juniors and seniors to take classes at Lower Columbia College which fulfill high school graduation requirements plus earn college credit.

How does Running Start work?

Running Start students attend regular LCC classes during the day, in the evening, or online, along with regular college students. College credit is granted upon completion of the course requirements, and these credits normally transfer to most colleges and universities.

Your enrollment at Lower Columbia College creates your official college transcript. College transcripts are considered confidential information and are released to no one – including parents -- without your permission (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act). At the end of each quarter, your grades are mailed to your high school and included in your high school GPA. Credits also apply to high school graduation according to individual school district policy.

How do I know if Running Start is right for me?

The Running Start program requires maturity, independence and dedication. Classes move at a faster pace, and are more demanding. Students should carefully consider whether they are academically and socially ready for the college environment.

Students are not guaranteed space in preferred college classes, and college schedules may conflict with high school classes or extracurricular activities.

Colleges operate on a quarter system which is different from the high school academic calendar. Holidays and vacations are different. Students are expected to attend classes at the college, even though their high school may not be in session.

Careful planning should take place before making the commitment to participate in the Running Start program. Students should work carefully with their high school counselor to make sure they complete all high school requirements.

What does Running Start cost?

The Running Start program covers the cost of tuition for college level classes (those numbered 100 and above), up to Full Time Equivalency (FTE).  FTE is calculated by how many minutes the student is in class at the high school during that semester. High school counselors determine the FTE. The Running Start program pays the college tuition, up to the FTE.

Students must pay college fees, transportation to and from campus, and the cost of books, supplies, tools and equipment.

Can I get Federal Financial Aid?

Running Start students are not eligible for Federal Financial Aid. Other funding programs are available, such as fee waiver program or book fund scholarship.

When can I begin the Running Start program?

You can start any quarter, but it is recommended to start in Fall quarter. LCC operates on a quarter system which is different from the high school academic calendar. Holidays and vacation periods are frequently different. Students are expected to attend classes at the college even though their high schools may not be in session. Careful planning must occur in order to avoid conflicts in family and school activities.

What are the deadlines for Running Start?

Many deadlines apply, including application, testing, registration and attendance at a mandatory orientation. Deadlines are listed on the Running Start Calendar.

How do I qualify for Running Start?

Running Start is limited to high school juniors and seniors, who have a high school GPA of 2.5 or higher, (appeal process available for students who do not meet this). Home schooled and private schooled students must enroll through the local public high school and must be considered a junior or senior and must also live in the State of Washington.

Potential students must take the take the Placement Test in reading, writing, and math (un-timed, multiple-choice tests given on a computer). No appointment is necessary, but deadlines apply. Testing is done at the Lower Columbia College Admissions Testing center. The cost is $30.

Students must test into college level reading and writing (ENGL 101), take the mathematics placement test, and have a high school GPA of 2.5 or higher (appeal process available for students who do not meet this).

How many times can I take the Running Start tests?

Students who do not score high enough on the first test get one free retest. Students who still do not score high enough must wait one year to test again.

After I qualify on the Running Start tests, what are the next steps?

  • Wait for an email welcoming you into the Running Start program. Instructions will be provided in this email.
  • Meet with your high school counselor to fill out the Enrollment Verification Form (EVF).
  • Your counselor will notify you when to do this.
  • The LCC Class Schedule will be online so you can get an idea of what classes you want.
  • Schedule an appointment to get advising and register for your classes (requires completed EVF with parent/guardian and HS counselor signature).
  • Pay fees and any tuition you owe.
  • Attend Running Start Orientation (mandatory three-hour training) with your parent/guardian

Can I attend Running Start part-time or full-time?

You can take all of your classes at LCC, or some at LCC and some at your high school. The average credit load for Running Start students is 11 credits per quarter (approximately 3 classes). The maximum number of credits for which Running Start will cover tuition is 15 credits per quarter, providing you do not exceed the combined enrollment limit.

What classes can I take in Running Start?

Running Start students may choose from a full range of courses as long as they are college-level (numbered 100 or higher) and  meet the qualifying criteria. This includes evening and online courses. Your high school counselor can tell you which courses at LCC are accepted by your high school to meet specific graduation requirements, such as CWP or CWI.

Should I do Running Start or Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) or Honors classes?

There are advantages to all of the above programs. Much would depend on whether you want to challenge yourself at the high school environment or want a different learning environment, such as Lower Columbia College. You should contact the university to which you plan to transfer to ask about their acceptance policies in regards to each of the above.

Do I need to find my own transportation to attend classes?

Yes. If you do not have a car or a driver’s license, public transportation is available through River Cities Transit. Students with ID card can ride the bus at no cost. For more information see Parking Options at Lower Columbia College.

Can home and private schooled students participate in Running Start?

Yes. You must enroll through the local public high school and must be considered a junior or senior. You do not have to attend classes in the public high school in order to participate in Running Start.

How is junior / senior standing determined for private schools and home schooled students who want to participate in Running Start?

It is the responsibility of the public school district to establish grade placement criteria for home schoolers who want to earn a high school diploma from a public high school. Some schools consider age appropriateness; others review credits and prior learning. In other cases, a standardized achievement test may be used in the absence of adequate documentation of a student’s home-based education.

Why do you ask for my Social Security Number in order to apply for admission?

To comply with federal laws, we are required to ask for your Social Security Number (SSN) or individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). We will use your SSN/ITIN to report Hope Scholarship/Life Time tax credit, to administer state/federal financial aid, to verify enrollment, degree and academic transcript records, and to conduct institutional research. If you do not submit your SSN/ITIN, you will not be denied access to the college; however, in accordance with state law (RCW 28B.10.042) and federal law (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act), the college will protect your SSN from unauthorized use and/or disclosure. If you do not have a Social Security Number or if you do not wish to divulge it for privacy reasons, a randomly assigned Student ID (SID) number will be mailed to you.

How do I know which classes at LCC apply toward my high school graduation requirements?

Your high school counselor can answer this question when you meet with him/her to "forecast" your Running Start classes. Different schools accept different courses from LCC to meet specific requirements, such as CWP/CWI or Senior English. It is critical that you work with your high school counselor to make sure that you are meeting your high school graduation requirements. On this form, the high school counselor will indicate what specific graduation requirement each course meets, even if it is an elective.

Do Running Start credits transfer to other colleges or universities?

If you earn your AA and transfer in state, all credits are sealed in your transfer degree. If you do not earn your AA some colleges may not accept certain credits. Always contact the institution you are transferring to and ask them for input. Give them the class name and the description of the class in the LCC course catalog. The same is true for many private and out of state universities.

Is it possible to obtain my high school diploma and an associate degree in Running Start?

Yes, it is possible to graduate from high school with an Associate Degree at the same time. This takes careful planning, so be sure to ask the LCC Running Start office for advising help toward an AA degree. If you do not plan to graduate from a public high school, you have the option of asking the college to issue a State of Washington high school diploma upon completion of an associate degree.

Should I take either the SAT or ACT test if I am in Running Start?

Yes. Some universities will require either SAT or ACT scores, even if you earn an Associate Degree from a community college.

Can I participate in my high school extra-curricular activities (like sports) if I’m in Running Start?

Students may still participate in any high school extracurricular activity, if time permits and consistent with Washington Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) rules of eligibility. However, Running Start students are not eligible to participate in intercollegiate athletics at LCC.

Am I eligible to be valedictorian at my high school if I’m in Running Start?

Running Start and non-Running Start students are both eligible to be valedictorian at their high school as long as they meet the high school requirements for that designation.

If I am a senior in Running Start, how do I get my grades sent to a college or university?

Submit the Transcript Request Form to mail your official transcript to the university where you are applying. You will also need to ask your high school to mail your official high school transcript.