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What is Running Start?

Running Start is a statewide partnership between Whatcom Community College and local high schools and 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 compete in athletics, clubs and be involved in their high school as much as they choose.  Additionally, there is a vibrant college experience for them in Running Start; students can participate in clubs, events and activities at WCC.


5 Steps to Enroll in Running Start

Step1. Attend an Information Session Attend an Information Session

Information Sessions are held on a regular basis.  No RSVP needed to attend.  See the Events below for details on an upcoming session.  You may also read more about the program in our brochure.  Click here to view the Running Start brochure.

Step 2. Be Admitted to Running Start. Be Admitted

Call Us at 360.383.3123 to be admitted!

To be admitted to Running Start students should contact the Running Start Office at 360.383.3123.

Participation in Running Start requires that students be of high school junior or senior standing and demonstrate the ability to enroll in college level English.  Math Placement is not required for Admission.  Home schooled students will work with their school district to determine grade level (home school students in the Bellingham School District should contact the high school registrar at the high school they would attend). Students attending a private school must register with a public high school to receive Running Start funding.  

The two most common ways to demonstrate college level English ability are through High School GPA or the Accuplacer Reading Test. 

High School GPA

Students who have earned a cumulative high school GPA of 2.5 or higher and/or a high school GPA of 2.5 over the three most recent consecutive semesters are eligible for Running Start admission at WCC.  Students' high school records must include a minimum of 15 graded courses.  Students must provide documentation (i.e. transcript, report card, Skyward report) to verify the high school GPA requirement.

Call us to schedule a review of your documentation 360.383.3123.

Accuplacer Reading Test

Students who do not meet the GPA requirements for Admission may take the Accuplacer Reading Test to demonstrate college level English ability. Student who complete the Accuplacer Reading Test must place at college level in order to be admitted to Running Start.

Call 360.383.3123 to sign up for a test. 

Read more about testing on the Testing Center website contact the Testing Center at 360.383.3050 or email testingcenter@whatcom.ctc.edu

Math Placement

Math Placement is not required for Running Start Admission.  Students who wish to take a math class or a math-based class at the College must first take the WCC math placement test. Students are encouraged to take math every year. The math placement test is usually completed in a separate session after the student has been admitted.    

Special testing instructions for students with an IEP or 504 plan:

Students who need to test under special conditions should make arrangements through a Running Start advisor before coming to the College by calling 360.383.3123. Please do not sign up for a group test before speaking to an advisor.

English Language Learners (ELL) testing:

Students who were enrolled or are currently enrolled in ELL or ESL classes in high school should contact the Running Start Office at 360.383.3123 and arrange to take the QUIA test at the College. Please allow 3.5 hours for this test.

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!

Step 4. Register and Pay for WCC Classes Register and Pay for WCC Classes

Running Start provides tons of options.  To ensure that students are selecting classes that align with their goals, Running Start students will meet with a WCC Advisor every quarter!  The advisor will discuss transferring to a university, long term career goals and most importantly, high school graduation!

Click here to learn more about Program Costs



Step5 Attend College Orientation

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

Click here to RSVP for Orientation