The number of students enrolled in the Running Start program at WSU Tri-Cities tripled in a year.
The program is just in its second year at the campus, and it is obviously a popular path with area high school students.
But some staff at the campus would like to put the brakes on and slow growth but we believe the rapid increase in enrollment is a good problem to have.
Of the 100 students in the inaugural Running Start program at WSU Tri-Cities, 71 have returned for a second year — a good rate of retention.
Overall enrollment at the campus increased by 275 students this fall, with 202 of those being first-year running start enrollees.
We can remember the not too distant past when the Richland campus was struggling to find students, coaxing them with scholarships and free laptops. So to have this rapid increase in young, eager minds makes these exciting times for WSU Tri-Cities.
For those who already know that they want to attend WSU for bachelor’s degrees, this is a great jump start and an economical option as they live at home and complete high school while earning college credits.
Faculty members have questioned whether the program’s benefits outweigh its costs and their increased workload. The university has contracts in place with its faculty that limit the number of classes each can teach, so the instructors already have that structure established. Maybe it’s the increased number of students per class that has them concerned, but for anyone who has taken introductory classes at a university, we know they can be quite large.
We’re a little confounded that faculty would resist having more students on campus, especially those who clearly want to participate. Parents also have a greater influence and Running Start students have more accountability to their high school and their families than those living on their own in Pullman. It’s a lot easier to keep tabs on Running Start students, their grades and progress.
WSU Tri-Cities, after many ups and downs over the years, has finally hit its stride and gotten the attention of potential students. With the new student housing under construction, that appeal will only grow. For some, Richland will be the new Pullman, a destination not too far from home but a place to experience campus life to its fullest. The housing will also be a draw for international students, especially those interested in the viticulture and enology programs at the campus’ world-class Wine Science Center.
While there may be a few details to work out in-house with faculty, we should all be cheering for WSU Tri-Cities and its successes.