My eldest is a high school sophomore now, and like many tenth graders, she is already sick of high school. Tigger has always been a kid who is eager to get to the next thing, whatever that may be. Right now, the next thing is college.


Fortunately, our state provides a program, called Running Start, for high school kids who are so done with high school. Running Start students take courses at the local community college during their junior and senior years of high school, earning high school and college credit at the same time. A student who stays focused and completes the requirements can earn an A.A. degree and be prepared to transfer to a four-year college as a junior right after high school. Add it up, parents, that’s two fewer years of college to pay for, because Running Start is (mostly) free.


The PSAT added more fuel to her ambitions. Our school district requires sophomores to take this test (normally taken by juniors) for practice. Tigger’s sky-high scores have resulted in a deluge of mail from colleges all over the country, drooling over my talented daughter’s potential to boost their rankings with her test-taking mojo.


So here’s my plan: two years of free education, courtesy of the Great State of Washington, followed by two years of free education, courtesy of some university that really, really wants this kid on their campus and offers a full-ride scholarship to get her.


A mom can dream, right?


18 thoughts on “Prey

  1. Good for Tigger! Two of my nieces did the Running Start program, but I don’t think they managed to earn enough transferable credits to start college as juniors. However, they did like it a whole lot freaking better than going to high school those last two years. (I think my nephews are currently doing RS too. So it has my relatives’ stamp of approval, if anyone needed that.You’re welcome.)

  2. I did dual enrollment when I was in high school. I was one of the first in the state of Alabama. It was great! I highly recommend it! I ended up graduating with my high school diploma in ’99, BA in December ’02, and MA in Spring ’04.  I wasn’t all the way through my college sophomore year when I transferred and I didn’t even aim for the associate’s because I knew I was going on for more degrees anyway, but it was a great head start. An added benefit is that the two year college system is more likely to WANT her to succeed in those early classes vs. a 4 year college where she may just be a number in a lecture hall where no one really cares whether she sinks or swims. I can’t believe so much time has passed.

  3. Sounds like a good dream!A few comments:1) Make sure she knows that the grades she gets at the local community college can follow her around the rest of her life. I know way more about the law school application process than other grad programs, but for law school most everything boils down to LSAT and then GPA (and GPA is calculated by using all classes taken for college credit, even in high school). (It should be acknowledged that the law school application process is admittely way more numbers-based than other grad programs in this regard though.)2) Limiting college debt is really important. I know way to many people with a lot of debt from undergrad. The price of education is getting higher and higher while the value of a college education is getting lower and lower. Something to keep in mind.3) Maybe the hardest thing to do, but choice of major is getting more and more important. Humanities majors might have well rounded educations, but they might not be able to find a job. Certain majors are much, much more valuable than others and will help with multiple career paths. (E.g., engineering, hard science, finance.)

  4. @transvestite_rabbit – I was the same way in high school and college. Now, I wish I had a stronger background in math and science just because it’s harder to self-teach yourself those things than it is to pick up a book and read about political theory. Plus, a degree in political science wasn’t going to get me a good job after college. (Though I wanted to stay in school for as long as possible, so that didn’t affect me as much.)

  5. Kudos to Tigger.  Just a word of caution.  There is so much more to college than the coursework.  Yes, she may be able to complete the credit requirements in two years of college, but I suspect you want more for your daughter than just meeting the requirements to graduate.  Good luck!

  6. Does she just go to the Community College?  Never goes back to high school?  Tigger is a very social kid, won’t she miss having friends her own age in school with her?  It would certainly be nice to shave 2 years off the tuition though!

  7. Virginia doesn’t have an official program like Running Start, but we manufactured one for ourselves by “homeschooling” our oldest child for the last two years of high school.  He attended the community college–we had to pay the full tuition–transferred to a four year school and now, at age 20, he has finished his bachelor’s degree.

  8. I agree with others who say, “sounds great,” but also, “there’s more to college than getting the degree.” Overall I think it never hurts to get the maximum credit for taking the hardest classes at any point in your life when you encounter the opportunity and you have the ability. I would definitely encourage my kids to do this. But I probably wouldn’t expect it to lead to a two-year reduction in college tuition. I would expect to end up sending a better-qualified kid to a four-year university where he/she MIGHT graduate in three years, or might take four, with more credits, experience, and ideas about what he/she wants to do, ultimately, than someone who takes it easy in high school.

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