Running Start - College Experience

Running Start students are "regular" college students. The faculty will expect the same level of classroom participation and quality of work from all students. Students will be expected to meet class deadlines, be prepared for class, ask questions and exhibit appropriate adult behavior.

Learn more about what instructors will expect from you, and what you should expect from your college instructors.

Class pace, size and participation requirements

The academic pace of college classes is much faster than in a comparable high school class. For example, a high school math class, which is taught in one year at the high school, is taught in one quarter (10 weeks) at the college. There is very little time for faculty to review lessons for students who do not understand the material or were absent from class.

If a student needs additional assistance, the student is responsible to seek out the instructor and/or support from the tutoring center. Instructors have regular office hours when students can meet to discuss issues or difficulties and most will arrange appointments outside of posted office hours if the student has a conflict. Free tutoring is also available.

Classes can vary in size from 15 to 80 students, with the average class size about 30 students. Students in classes may range in age from 16 to 80 years old.

Classroom participation is an integral part of college and most faculty require students to participate in classroom discussions. Students will experience a variety of opinions and perspectives.

Homework and preparing for class

College classes demand an average of two to three hours of homework for each hour of class. A five credit class will have approximately 10-15 hours of homework each week, and the total time commitment for a five credit class will be approximately 20 hours a week. Unlike high school, there is no classroom time for homework. A full-time student, not taking any high school classes, takes three (3) classes, for a total of 15 credits per quarter.

It is the student's responsibility to be prepared each day for class and meet all course deadlines. College instructors normally do not offer make-up work for students who are behind or need to improve their grade. The syllabus handed out at the beginning of the quarter outlines expectations.


Most faculty members are aware of a student's pattern of attendance and may factor it into the final grade. Regardless of whether the student has attended class, the instructor will hold them accountable for understanding the material covered in class or assigned for that day. It is the student's responsibility to be prepared each day for class and meet all deadlines.

Some instructors give pop quizzes and expect all papers to be turned in on time with no possibility to make up work. Faculty will provide a syllabus at the beginning of the quarter outlining their expectations. It is the student's responsibility to understand and follow through with these expectations.

Withdrawing from (dropping) a class

It is important for students to officially withdraw from a course, if necessary.  Many students believe that if they simply stop attending, they will be withdrawn from the course; this is NOT true. Students will receive a 0.0 (Fail) for the course,for failure to official withdraw which becomes part of their permanent high school and college records. Withdrawing from a class may have serious implications on a student's high school graduation status.

Prior to the quarterly withdraw deadline, to withdraw from a class(es) a running start student must:

  • Obtain a Schedule Change Form and meet with their High School Counselor to discuss how the withdraw impacts the student’s graduation requirements and obtain a signature.
  • Meet with a Running Start Advisor to obtain a signature.
  • Submit the Schedule Change Form to the Registration Office.

Grades and academic records

Grades are not mailed to students. Grades can be accessed through the Student Online Services or student kiosks on campus. The Running Start Enrollment Verification Form has a signature line for students that releases transcripts to be sent to their high school at the end of each quarter.

Students successfully completing classes through the Running Start Program will receive both high school and college credit. Grades received become part of the permanent college transcript. If students apply to other colleges, they must list Pierce College as a college attended and request an official transcript (from Pierce College) be sent to the receiving school to verify college course work.

Academic standards

Download a copy of Pierce College District Academic Standards Policy


To park a vehicle on campus, students need to obtain a parking sticker from Campus Safety. There is no fee for this sticker but all vehicles on the campus must have a current sticker displayed.

Valerie Frey
Running Start Manager

Sarah Hoaglin
Running Start Advisor

Jayna Pettersen
Running Start Advisor
(253) 840-8339

Fort Steilacoom

Schedule an appointment:
Testing: 253-964-6521


Advising: 253-840-8431
Testing: 253-840-8343