While planning my future in education, Running Start rose to the top of my possible options.  It seemed like a good fit for me; I could get away from the high school atmosphere I disliked while also getting ahead in my schooling.

Here are 10 things I didn’t know (and didn’t expect) until I actually experienced my first quarter as a Running Start student:

  1. You have much more free time in Running Start, partially because you no longer attend pep assemblies, homeroom, or have a designated time for lunch.  Time is also allocated differently in college, most students take only 3 (sometimes 4) classes per quarter.  This frees up your schedule, though some quarters you will need all that extra time to study.
  2. You won’t be reprimanded for being late to class.  Sure, a rare teacher will give attendance points.  Generally though, college accepts the fact that life can happen and cause someone to be late.
  3. Exploring campus is extremely rewarding because there are so many places and events to discover.  The library has great study spots, including silent and group permissible areas.  In my exploration, a certain tree has become one of my favorite spots on campus.
  4. Unless you do part time Running Start, you’ll rarely see anyone from high school.  I definitely feel like I’ve grown apart from many of my high school friends, mainly because we have such different realities now.
  5. Your classes won’t consist primarily of other Running Start students.  There will be some, but you’ll be in classes with people of all ages.  Also, it’s hard to tell who’s in Running Start versus who is an actual college student (unless you directly ask them).
  6. You need to be extremely self-motivated and able to prioritize well.  (Okay, I know people told me this before I entered Running Start, but I didn’t actually understand it until I started classes).  Most teachers don’t impose check-ins, so it’s up to you to get the work done on time.  Prioritizing deadlines and deciding when to cut corners and when not to is one of the most important skills I’m developing.  (Recommendation: Take College 101 in your first quarter because it really helps with adjusting to college life.  Also, you can’t take English 102 without it).
  7. In Running Start, you’re treated like an adult.  This can be quite a shock for anyone accustomed to the stifling breath of high school.  Differing opinions become exciting in college classes, and you quickly learn that your opinion -however unorthodox- is welcome in discussion.
  8. Time seems to pass faster when you’re on a quarter system.  You really need to maintain your grades.  Eight or nine weeks pass quickly, and suddenly you’re at the end of the quarter without enough time to significantly improve your grade.
  9. You get to plan your own schedule – which is really exciting when you realize you could choose to start your school day at 11:00 am!  That said, it’s incredibly important to make sure the classes you’re taking align with your high school graduation requirements.  This becomes even more important if you’re aiming to graduate high school with an Associate’s Degree.  Scheduling a meeting with a Running Start counselor (at the college) is a great first step in finding resources to help plan your Running Start schedule.
  10. I really appreciate the atmosphere of a college campus.  As we transition into adulthood, college students think more deeply about complex questions and concepts.  (I think some high school students are adults at heart).  I truly feel like I belong on this campus, which is a very refreshing feeling indeed.

If you find yourself intimidated by warnings that Running Start “isn’t for everyone” and will be “much more difficult than high school”, don’t be discouraged.  Though there will always be a few things that ruffle your feathers, the conflicts of high school are much less concentrated in college.  The Running Start program truly is amazing.  If you’re considering Running Start, you’re likely planning to attend college after high school.  Why not a little sooner? 

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