Running Start Not Dependent on Time

Alayla Stout, Staff


10:30 a.m. and my alarm is calling me to wake up. No, I’m not late for school. But If I don’t get up in time, I won’t have time to study my biology notes and get to my 2 p.m. class. Wednesdays are my only in-person lecture, and I plan to be at campus soon so I can grab a breakfast burrito. While other high schoolers are awake by dawn, I’m sleeping in, pajamas on, and out of the house after the usual high school lunch.  

My aunt pops her head out the window before I leave, waving me a quick goodbye.  

“What time will you be home?” She asks me.  

“Maybe a little after my lecture,” I say. “I might catch a coffee with my friend afterward. We don’t have any other classes today.” 

11 a.m. and a quiet and brisk drive to campus has me excited to get some food, warm and hot off the cafeteria stove. I sit at one of the round tables, watching an episode of my favorite show and enjoying the silence of the campus before I pack my things, put in my earbuds and head to class.  

On a different afternoon, also around 11 a.m.,  I decided to drive to PHS to have lunch with some of my friends. We all wanted to get coffee at the stand and talk before we went back to our classes, or, in my case, before I went back home.  

We stood in line, and I watched as unfamiliar faces walked by and talked about things I would never understand– something about this teacher and that teacher, something about what this boy did at the assembly. It is always a collective understanding that I don’t get.  There is always something that I miss out on. If it’s spirit week, I don’t know. If it’s a half-day, the excitement doesn’t matter to me.  

I try and remind myself that despite those circumstances, there are so many benefits that keep me in the Running Start program. I do believe that in my experience, the pros out way the cons. There are so many things I have learned about others and myself that keep me interested in college.  

I have enough room to get a proper education while having enough free time to do what I want. Once a week, I am involved in in-person learning. College expands my ability to pursue the classes I want to take to get closer to my career goals. From journalism, to film and  poetry, I can indulge in my interests and figure out what I want to do from intensive experience. 

 My ability to take these classes has helped me continually develop my path to discovering my purpose. I am in full control of who I want to become. But, every schedule for each Running Start student is different, and there are plenty of options to choose from when it comes to classes. From online to in-person, I get to choose how, when and where I complete my courses.  

Three classes a quarter are always free for dual-enrollment students. There isn’t a single cost for me–thousands of dollars of classes paid for so I can pursue a higher education in any way that I desire. I can go at my own pace, too,  and that works better for me. Though certain classes require attendance, I can study what I want at any time during the day. There is no strict schedule for when I need to complete schoolwork during the day or where I need to do it. I can stay at home, go to my local cafe, or study in the college library at any time during the week to get my classwork done. Independent learning is important for me, and high school can be too loud and overwhelming for my learning style. 

I have learned to be a part of the college environment. Professors will always treat you like you’re an adult, and that makes me feel at a more equal level. I am less nervous to ask questions and be a part of the classroom. No longer do I feel like a little kid waiting for instruction. This sort of difference makes me feel like I can add my ideas and thoughts to the classroom without being criticized by my teachers as well as my peers– a place that feels more mature and goal-oriented. It has made me feel more like a part of society– I understand and am involved with clubs and extracurriculars I wouldn’t have been involved in if I stayed in regular high school classes.  

Going into high school, I never thought half of it would be spent outside of the classroom in college lecture halls. But here I am, every morning, preparing myself for days of college-level labs and courses so I can receive my associate’s degree the same year I graduate.