students gathered outside on puyallup campus

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I begin the process of becoming a Running Start student?

The first step is to submit a Pierce College online admissions application. The next step is to determine college-level placement. If you qualify for English 101, then you are eligible for Running Start. If you qualify for college-level math in addition to Reading 101, then you may only take math courses number 100 and above through Running Start.

For more information on taking the placement test at Pierce College Fort Steilacoom, call 253-964-6521 and for Pierce College Puyallup call 253-840-8343. Take the results back to your high school counselor for review and referral.

Can Running Start students participate in sports? At college? In high school?

Running Start students may not participate in college athletics, but are still eligible for participation at their high school. Although they may not participate in college athletics, they can participate in all college clubs and organizations.

Can I receive a degree from Pierce College at the same time I get my high school diploma?

Yes, this is possible. However, the primary goal is to complete high school graduation requirements first. Running Start students who start their junior high and attend college full-time through their senior year may earn their degree at the same time. Running Start students are encouraged to complete their associates with Pierce College before transferring to a 4-year college.

Do I have to pay for my books?

Running Start students are responsible for buying their own books. Books can cost up to $150 per class. However, the Pierce College Running Start program does have a book loan program for students who qualify for free or reduced lunches at their high school. Funds are limited so apply for the book loan program early.

Does the high school know if I skip class at the college?

No, there is no discussion between the two campuses regarding your attendance. Yet, participation in class is important and frequently grades will reflect attendance.

How much do Running Start students pay each quarter for their classes?

The Running Start program funds college-level coursework up to 15 credits. The number of credits each student is funded for is determined by the number of classes the student is enrolled in at their high school. The more classes a student takes at the high school, the less number of credits the student is funded for at the college. A high school counselor or school district official will determine the number of credits each student can take.

Running Start does not cover:

  • Tuition for classes under 100 level
  • Tuition for credits above maximum limit
  • Any additional course or lab fees
  • The cost of books and supplies for class
  • Classes taken during summer quarter

Can parents receive information about their daughter/son's academic progress or grades? Why or why not?

Running Start students have the same rights and responsibilities as any other college student. All student educational records are maintained according to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) concerning information that becomes part of the permanent record and governing the conditions of its disclosure. Only your name, dates of enrollment, and degrees earned can be released without your authorization.

Can Running Start students take online courses?

Yes, these classes are considered to be within the normal delivery of the college curriculum. We encourage students to take the SmarterMeasure assessment before taking an online course. It can help determine your readiness for online learning. Keep in mind that many classroom courses have an online component. For more information on distance learning classes, visit eLearning.

How many quarters can a Running Start student enroll in the Running Start program?

All qualified students can enroll up to three quarters (fall, winter and spring) during their junior year and up to three quarters (fall, winter and spring) during their senior year. Special circumstance exists for second-year seniors who have previously participated in Running Start. Please contact the Running Start Office for details.

Can I take summer classes through the Running Start program?

No, Running Start students are funded only during the normal academic year. Students may take college classes during the summer with a High School Release Form signed by a high school counselor or homeschool parent but they are responsible for payment of all tuition and fees.

What happens if I stop attending my class?

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, 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.

Students can drop a class up through the third day of the quarter using their Registration Access Code. Students must notify high school counselors of any changes to their college schedule.

As a college student, students have until the 10th day of the quarter to drop a class so it will not impact their college and high school transcript.

After the third day of the quarter, and up until the 10th day, students cannot drop a class online. Students must complete an add/drop form; meet with their high school counselor and obtain the counselor’s signature; meet with a Running Start advisor and obtain the advisor’s signature; and take the completed form to Registration to complete the process.

After the 10th day of the quarter, until the final withdrawal deadline, students can withdraw from a course. At this point, students will receive a 'W' on their college and high school transcript. The 'W' does not impact their college GPA.

How many credits can a Running Start student take each quarter?

The number of credits is determined by your high school counselor and a Pierce College Running Start Advisor. The Running Start program pays for tuition up to a maximum of 15 credits of college level work each quarter. If the student enrolls for more college credits than eligible for, the student is responsible for paying all college tuition and fees associated with exceeding the college credits

I did not test into college level math, but I still would like to take math at Pierce College -- am I allowed to do that?

The Running Start Program will fund only college-level courses (courses numbered 100 or above). If a student wishes to take a course below college level, then they must pay for the course and have a High School Release Form signed by a high school counselor or home school parent. Students who do not qualify to take college-level math are STRONGLY encouraged to continue taking math courses at their high school.