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September, 2004 Vol. 29 No. 3
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Running Start

UH Hilo Running Start

Published September 2004

Instant Sophomore

Classes count toward high school diploma and college degree when students get a Running Start

Joann Shin in front of Hawaii Hall
Instant sophomore Joann Shin
by Arlene Abiang

At 18, Joann Shin knows hard work pays off. She had 41 college credits under her belt when she graduated from McKinley High School in June 2004. "Competition is stiff these days," she says in explanation.

Shin got a running start on her college education through a statewide program of that very name. At Established in Hawaiʻi in 2000 through a partnership between the Department of Education and the University of Hawaiʻi, Running Start allows public high school juniors and seniors to enroll in college courses at participating UH campuses, earning credits that apply toward both their high school diploma and a college degree.

At "I wanted more freedom with my education. Running Start got me ready for college and allowed me to accomplish two things at once," Shin says.

At The transition to college life can sometimes be overwhelming, so Running Start helps ease students’ anxiety. "Participants have already experienced success in the college classroom, mastering many of the challenges facing first-year students, such as time management, class participation and interaction with fellow students," says Kathleen Jaycox, who coordinates the Running Start program statewide.

At Shin enrolled in the program at the start of her senior year at McKinley. Full-time classes at Honolulu Community College fulfilled the remainder of her high school requirements. On top of two part-time jobs, Shin took summer courses at Leeward and Kapiʻolani, earning enough credits to boost her to sophomore standing at Honolulu this fall. She plans to graduate with her associate degree in liberal arts after just one semester, obtain a bachelor’s degree in chemistry at Mānoa and study pharmacy in Seattle. "I don’t want to leave Hawaiʻi, but because we don’t have pharmacy schools here, I’ll have to go to the mainland," she says.

At "Joann found herself very comfortable in college," observes Jean Maslowski, Honolulu Community College Running Start counselor. "Not only did she adjust well, she maintained a 4.0 cumulative grade point average. That’s quite an achievement for any college student, but really something to take note of when it’s a high school student."

At Running Start, currently offered at UH Hilo and the seven UH community colleges, may not be the best route for everyone. High school counselors, who decide whether a student is ready for such a program, stress the importance of considering each student’s maturity level.

At "Students in Running Start should be academically prepared, able to work independently, have a high level of self motivation and take responsibility," says Maslowski. To future Running Start students, Shin offers this tip: "It’s good to plan ahead, but sometimes you have to ignore the bigger picture and focus on what you have at hand."

At Participants pay regular college tuition for the courses they take. GEAR UP, a federally funded program administered by Manoa’s College of Business, covered tuition and books for more than 284 qualifying Running Start students, but it is scheduled to end in 2005. A major challenge for Running Start is identifying alternate resources to sustain access for academically capable students from low-income families.

At If the source of funds isn’t yet clear, the reason to seek them is. "Running Start is an excellent example of collaboration between the state and the university, with direct focus on Hawaiʻi’s students," Jaycox says. "We need to support programs that provide a pathway of success for the college-bound young men and women who will help shape the future of our state."

Arlene Abiang (BA ʻ01 Mānoa) is an External Affairs and University Relations public information officer.

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