Local enrollment in Running Start, a dual-credit program offered by Lower Columbia College that allows teens to earn both high school and college credits without paying tuition, has steadily increased over the past few years. Nearly 400 juniors and seniors from Cowlitz County high schools were enrolled in the program this year. LCC has also created an outreach program to aid students in rural districts who might find it difficult to travel to the campus in Longview. The outreach program enables students to take college courses online and receive support from tutors and advisors at outreach centers located at their high school. The program was originally launched in Toutle and has since expanded to Castle Rock and Woodland.
Career Pathways is another opportunity for high school students to earn college credit for vocational classes. It is a partnership between LCC and and high school instructors designed to guide students into high –skill, high-wage careers with local industries. High school students are awarded dual credit for classes completed at their high school and passed with a B grade or better. The credits will then transfer to programs at LCC or any other two-year and some four-year institutions in Washington State. Examples of classes include accounting, automotive technology, business, diesel & heavy equipment, drafting, machine trades, computer science, early childhood education, fire science, pre-nursing, welding and medical assistance.
Advanced Placement classes are a third way qualified high school students can earn college credit. These accelerated classes allow students to perform college level work and then take nationally scored tests to potentially earn college credit.
Local high schools are increasingly adding more classes to their curriculum which allow students to seek either Advanced Placement or Career Pathways credits.