Running Start enrollments are running off the charts

Amelia Nored, News Editor

In the past, many Liberty students have been hesitant to participate in Running Start (a dual enrollment program in which students can take college courses at Bellevue College while completing high school) because they worried it may take away from the high school experience. Getting to interact with friends every day in eight different classes, going to football games after school on Fridays, and joining clubs and sports at school—there are so many things to love about high school. However, with Covid-19 stripping away these in-person components of the high school experience, Running Start enrollments have skyrocketed. 

“Enrollments have almost doubled at this point. Many students feel like if they are going to be online for eight periods, why not do Running Start and earn college credits as well?” counselor April Flores said. 

This spike in enrollments has raised concerns that the differences between Running Start and Liberty’s online curriculum are too vast for some students to anticipate before they enroll.

“Some students may not be ready for college-level courses, but will choose the Running Start path to avoid having eight online classes at Liberty, only to have to return second semester and try to make up lost credits after realizing the difficulty of the program,” counselor Robin Klym said. “Students who are not ready for college-level courses may end up hurting themselves in the long run because the classes taken at Bellevue College are the beginning of a student’s college transcript.”

However, there are also many benefits to students enrolling in Running Start courses at Bellevue College during the pandemic. 

“As long as the student is ready for college-level courses, three classes in a quarter can be easier to manage than eight classes all year, and there is more ‘flex time’ during the day for students in the Running Start program to be able to schedule their courses around part-time jobs or other responsibilities,” Klym said.

Students have also expressed their appreciation for the freedom Running Start has given them during the pandemic.

“One big difference between Running Start and Liberty is that there is less ‘busy work,’ so I am able to manage my time and do my work when it is best for me,”  junior Running Start student Ella Ricchio said. “I feel like I am able to explore more classes and subjects that I would not be able to do otherwise.”