Running Start is a bargain—free college classes for 11th and 12th grade students who pass the entrance test. Students can take all classes at the community college, or part at college and part at high school. They can pick the hours or even study online. One quarter of English is the equivalent of a year of high school English. Some teens even complete high school and a two-year AA degree—free—by age 18. Sounds great, doesn’t it?
- are self-motivated (don’t need a teacher taking attendance, etc.)
- aren’t as immersed in the social culture of high school, and
- get learning done with much less support and more out-of-school initiative
Running Start gives students a taste of college’s no-nonsense expectations and can be overwhelming at first. It can also be a time of feeling invisible. With a campus of hundreds of students, teens to grandparents, on different paths, there is not the strong sense of “community” one might expect from the community college title. So parents need to find ways to provide a safety net and social context for Running Start teens.
At LEADPrep, we are helping our seniors experience Running Start while remaining in our community. Students will take a part-time load of online college classes in small groups, so they have high school peer and teacher support as they navigate college expectations. Learning to succeed in college is like learning to drive; it takes adult supervision and guidance before we hand over the keys.