CWU News

CWU Running Start Sees Enrollment Rise by Nearly 20 Percent This Fall

Central Washington University’s Running Start program is enjoying record-setting growth in several categories this fall. Student enrollment alone is up 19.5 percent from fall 2019, due in part to a record 16 new schools that are partnering with CWU to offer the program this year.

In all, 448 students from 38 high schools from Bainbridge Island to Zillah are now taking university courses, alongside their university peers, taught by CWU professors.  

“We had already been experiencing a pattern of growth as students learned more about our program and we built relationships with high schools across the state,” said Angelia Riveira, CWU Running Start associate director. “With the move to virtual learning, even more students decided to pursue Running Start, and parents like it because Central has a recognized online-learning program.”

CWU’s Associate Provost of Extended Learning and Outreach Ediz Kaykayoglu added, “Our growth is the result of CWU’s commitment to providing excellent education. We have a hard-working team that provides individualized services to our students, families, and high schools. We have the best faculty to teach, mentor, and shape the future of our students, and we’re dedicated to sustaining the increase in our programs.”

CWU has been offering Running Start since 1994. The program allows 11th- and 12th-grade students to take college courses on the Ellensburg campus or at the CWU-Sammamish instructional site. Students earn both high school and college credits for those classes, reducing the time required to achieve a college degree.

Jacob Berman of Peshastin is among those who will only need two years to graduate from college. The home school student is a high school senior who will graduate this June with two years of CWU Running Start under his belt.

“I was doing an online high school last year when my dad suggested I do Running Start, and he told me about Central Washington [University],” he said. “I thought, ‘Wow I can take college courses at a real university with great professors.’ It’s been life changing, really.”

Berman is also a member of CWU’s William O. Douglas Honors College, the university’s premier interdisciplinary program for academically talented students. While he’s not certain what his career choice may be, Berman is considering astrobiology and human rights law.

CWU Running Start students tend to be self-motivated high achievers.

“Running Start policies require that we treat them just the same as any Central student,” Riveira pointed out. “So, they’re required to meet our regular university admissions standards. We have highly motivated students simply because they have to meet those standards just to participate.”

At the end of last spring quarter, 49 percent of all CWU Running Start students earned a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.5 or higher, including 31 students who finished the year with a perfect 4.0 cumulative GPA.

Depending on what a student is studying in high school, the courses are tuition-free. However, students generally are responsible for books and fees. To help offset those costs, the university administers a book loan program to help low-income students with the cost of textbooks. Also, CWU Running Start was selected to participate in the Washington Student Achievement Council Dual Enrollment Scholarship pilot program to further aid low-income students.

“We’ve decided to use this money to help cover course, technology, and other mandatory fees for these students, which we have not been able to do in the past,” said Kyle Carrigan, CWU director of Concurrent Enrollment. “We anticipate supporting at least 65 students with these funds this year.”