High School Completion Programs in Washington State: Off to a “Running Start”

It is well-known that the majority of Vietnamese students begin their US higher education at a community college (two-year school) as a gateway to a four-year college or university to complete their bachelor’s degree. 

A community college program in Washington state that allows student to earn a Washington high school diploma and a university transfer associate degree in just two years, is all the rage among Vietnamese students and parents.  Green River Community College, for example, which calls this program High School Completion Plus, highlights the key advantages on its website:  Save Time and Money, Earn Dual Degrees and Fast Track

In addition to saving time and money, killing two birds with one stone, so to speak, high school completion programs enable students to make a smooth linguistic and cultural adjustment and better prepare them for study at a four-year college or university.  For Vietnamese parents of means who cannot afford an overseas boarding school (40-50k per year) these programs are a cost-effective and attractive option for their children to obtain a quality education, something that is in short supply at home.  There are about 22 Washington community colleges that actively recruit international students.   

High School Completion Programs & Student Visas

Based on my experience, consular officers set the bar a bit higher for those who wish to participate in these programs.  The student must be able to explain why s/he is transferring from a Vietnamese high school (in some cases a talented and gifted school) to a high school completion program in the US and what her/his long-term plans are.  The legislation (PDF) on which the high school completion program is based was enacted by the Washington State Legislature in March 1990 and updated in September 2011. 

Vietnamese Students & Washington State

According to the Open Doors 2011 Fact Sheet for Washington (PDF), Vietnam ranks 3rd among all places of origin with 9.4% of total international student enrollment in that state of 17,811, which amounts to 1674 students.  This amounts to just over 11% of total Vietnamese enrollment at US colleges and universities in 2010/11.   

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