The Running Start and Early College programs help students prepare for college life, making it easier for them to be successful right through to graduation.
By Don Straney.
As we look to our work in 2017, a high priority at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo is to improve significantly the recruiting, retention and graduation of our students. I’d like to share with you two programs showing great progress on recruiting and the success of our students: the Running Start and Early College programs.
Both programs are partnerships between UH and the State Department of Education. UH also has an Early College partnership with Kamehameha Schools.
The Running Start program has been around for years. It allows local high school students to take a college course at one of the 10 UH System campuses across the state. In this way, high school students are attending classes with college and university students and getting acclimated to college life and demands. Students receive dual credit, high school and college credit, for successful completion of the course.
Prior to spring 2015, UH Hilo had a small number of students in Running Start. It was after we started offering Early College classes a couple of years ago that we began to see a significant increase in enrollment.
In the Early College program, university courses are taught by a university professor on the student’s high school campus. Upon successful completion of the course, the student receives both high school and college credit.
The purpose is to have more high school students graduate with college credits so they are better prepared for their future degree and career.
This type of program works. I started college with credit for two high school courses. They were both required so I started by taking more advanced courses, and that let me to finish my undergraduate degree early.
I recommend high school students consider taking early college courses not just to get a head start, but to understand they are ready for college-level work and that UH may be the next step for their education.
In 2015, twelve high schools statewide were selected to participate in the Early College DOE program so as to increase the number of high school students earning six or more college credits before they graduate from high school. Four public high schools on Hawai‘i Island are participating. Kamehameha Schools also entered into a partnership with UH Hilo.
Some of the introductory classes provided by UH Hilo in the last two years are in astronomy, psychology, and sociology at Kohala High. Anthropology, art, communication, English, philosophy, psychology, sociology, and math are offered at the Kamehameha Schools Hawai‘i campus.
Hawai‘i Community College also has partnerships with high schools on the island and UH Hilo is working closely with them to bring the Early College program to the whole island.
Kohala High School is working with Hawai‘i CC and UH Hilo. Hilo High School, Kealakehe High and Waiakea High are working with Hawai‘i CC.
Collaboration for success
As we gear up for the next legislative session, it’s important to note that the DOE and the Governor have a goal of making funds available to the DOE to provide students statewide with the opportunity to complete six college credits prior to their high school graduation. This will ensure we have close working relationships with the high schools while the students take one college class per semester in their senior year or one college class per year in each of their junior and senior years.
All regular admissions criteria to UH still apply, so incoming students participating in Running Start and Early College still need to meet minimum grade point average requirements for acceptance into a UH school. But the programs greatly help with exactly that preparation and transition into college life, giving students a jump start and making it easier for them to acclimate to college life and be successful right through to graduation.
Here’s wishing you a Happy New Year!