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Highline and Federal Way schools offer head start for college

Highline Community College and Federal Way Public Schools have teamed up once again.

This time the partnership hopes to replace what was lost with the closure Puget Sound Early College (PSEC) last year.

The new partnership is "better," said Josh Garcia, executive director of Teaching for Learning.

PSEC, which was cut due to budget cuts, was a branch of the Running Start program, allowing students to take college classes and receive both high school and college credits for the same class. Students were then able to graduate high school with an associate's degree. While Running Start allows students to do the same things, PSEC students were in classes with only high school students and also received more one-on-one time with teachers. Staff also helped students pick which classes to take.

The new plan is to help students get their high school degree and a two-year associate's degree (AA) even easier. Starting in the fall 2011, students could pick specialized program paths and could start working toward the goal during their freshman year.

The program is geared for students who already know what they want to do in high school.

For these students, during their first two years of high school, they would take all their classes at the high school, then their last two years all at Highline — unlike Running Start, where students may take just one up to all of their classes at the college.

Also, unlike Running Start, there is a set schedule of classes the student must take, set up by the high school and Highline. Students don't have to register on their own, hoping they get a class that counts for both credits.

"They never have to negotiate on their own," Garcia said.

Currently, the district and the college have figured out three programs: Interior design, medical assistant and visual communications. Students who complete the pathway would then graduate high school with their degree as well as an AA and additional certificates in their field.

"Students will be job ready by the time they leave high school," Garcia said.

Learn more

To learn more about Highline Community College programs for high school students, visit Highline Community College's Web site by clicking here.

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