What is Running Start?

Running Start is a statewide partnership between Whatcom Community College and local high schools 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 participate 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 - most at no additional cost to the student.


5 Steps to Enroll in Running Start

Step1. Attend an Information Session Attend an Admission Session

Students interested in Running Start are required to attend an Admission Session. Sessions are held on a regular basis.  No RSVP needed to attend and parking on campus is free.  See the Events box for details on an upcoming session. 

Participation in Running Start requires that students be of high school junior or senior standing and complete a series of steps outlined in the Admission Session.   

Step 2. Be Admitted to Running Start. Apply for Admission

To be admitted, students are required to submit an Application Packet that includes the following materials they received at the Admission Session (Step 1):

  • Application
  • Parent Permission Form
  • Fee Waiver Petition (if applicable)

Submit your Application Packet by mail, by email, or in person to:

Running Start
LDC 134
237 West Kellogg Rd
Bellingham, WA 98226


Once an Application Packet has been processed, students will receive a confirmation email. 

Homeschool and Private School Students:

Home schooled and private school students are also eligible for Running Start and must enroll with their public high school to receive Running Start funding. The school district will determine the process for enrollment and grade level.

English Language Learners (ELL):

Students who have been enrolled in ELL or ESL classes in high school are also eligible for Running Start. Call the Running Start office at 360.383.3123 for information.

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

Running Start provides tons of class options; you can take morning, day-time, afternoon, evening or online courses in nearly every subject imaginable.  To ensure that students are selecting classes that align with their goals, Running Start students are required to meet with both their high school contact and a WCC Advisor every quarter!  Your high school contact will ensure you are on track for high school graduation, as well as discuss any courses you'd like to continue taking at the high school and considerations for doing Running Start.  The WCC Advisor will discuss quarterly classes, credit equivalencies, transferring to a university, long term career goals and most importantly, high school graduation!  Home schooled students are not required or expected to pursue the diploma from the school district but are still required to meet quarterly with the high school contact for funding purposes.

Running start is a great program and it's NOT free.  The amount will vary based on many factors.  Information about program costs is available at the Admission Session and available by clicking here.



Step5 Attend New Student Orientation (called "Wave")

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.