High school students can get a head start on college before graduating from high school. Students have the opportunity to take college classes and earn college credit with little to no tuition cost, depending on the program. Read below to learn more about the different ways students can experience college classes today!

Advanced Placement courses are designed to be the equivalent of college-level work. Ninth- and 10th-graders can enroll in pre-AP courses, and 10th-graders also may enroll in a limited selection of regular AP courses. Eleventh- and 12th-grade students may choose from a full range of AP courses. Students who enroll in these classes should expect to engage in challenging work, independent research, critical thinking and readings and assignments outside of class.

Why take an AP class?

  • Studies have shown that students who take AP classes are better prepared for college than students who have not participated.
  • College admissions offices look favorably at students who have completed AP classes.
  • Students who successfully pass an AP test will receive college credit at most colleges and universities.

AP classes are offered at every VPS high school and Vancouver Home Connection. Offerings vary by school but may include the following content areas:

  • Social studies
  • Science
  • English language arts
  • World languages
  • Art
  • Math
  • Technology


  • High school guidance counselor or career specialist
The rigorous worldwide university preparation Pre-Baccalaureate (ninth and 10th grades) and International Baccalaureate (11th and 12th grades) magnets located at Columbia River High School challenge students to develop expertise in all subjects, as well as skills for success in college and the global economy. Courses are offered in English/literature, math, French, Spanish, German, history, biology, chemistry, physics, art, music and film/moviemaking.

Those who complete one or more IB courses—and exams—could receive college credit recognized at institutions throughout the world. Completion of the entire IB diploma program can result in priority admission to top universities, increased college credit and additional scholarship opportunities.


High school guidance counselor or magnet program coordinator

Through a partnership with Clark College, juniors and seniors have the opportunity to take tuition-free college-level classes and earn college credits while also earning their high school diploma. Running Start program credits earned count toward both high school graduation and college degree programs.

Important things to know:

  • Students must take and pass a Clark College entrance test.
  • Grades and credit for Running Start classes will become part of a permanent college transcript which includes a college grade point average.
  • Grades received in Running Start classes will also be used in computing the student’s high school GPA. Grades issued by Clark College cannot be changed by high school administrators.
  • Washington public four-year colleges and universities recognize Running Start credits; however, some private and out-of-state colleges do not. Check with the college or university to verify that Running Start credits will transfer.
  • High school administrators will not issue attendance, progress or grade reports for Running Start classes.
  • The college communicates with students, not parents, regarding Running Start classes.

Running Start classes take place on the Clark College campus. Students whose schedule would preclude participation may be interested in Running Start in the High Schools.


Clark College Running Start
The College in the High School program allows juniors and seniors to acquire college credit through selected classes offered at participating high schools. Highly qualified VPS teachers, approved by the designated college or university, provide instruction and work closely with college professors.

This program also offers students an opportunity to visit college campuses, attend college lectures and programs and participate in other important college events.


High school guidance counselor

Students have the opportunity to experience more challenging coursework and begin earning college credit while still enrolled in high school, as well as work toward earning a degree from Clark College, Clackamas Community College or Lower Columbia College. This low-cost dual-credit program allows students to receive college credits for some of their high school courses through an agreement with community colleges.

Important things to know:

  • Two courses are said to be “articulated” when the high school course has the same student learning outcomes, curriculum content and rigor of assessment as the college course. Course titles may differ between the high school course and the articulated college course, but the course materials, content and instruction are consistent with (or “articulated” with) courses offered by the community college.
  • Students save time and money by fulfilling degree requirements while still in high school.
  • Students may be able to bypass entry-level college courses when they enroll at a community college.
  • College articulation credits are guaranteed at the college for which the articulation agreement is approved and may be used at another community college or university, dependent on their admission criteria. Or students may use them to enter the military at a higher rank.

CTE articulation college courses and community college options


High school guidance counselor or career specialist