At W. F. West High School students can take challenging college courses and earn college credit without ever leaving the high school campus. Ambitious Bearcats can earn high school AND college credit at the same time, thanks to a partnership with Eastern Washington University, Central Washington University, and Centralia College. 

This program is called College in the High School (CiHS). High school students in Chehalis can earn five college credits per class at W. F. West. A total of 82 credits could be earned by taking all offered classes. 

“This is a fantastic opportunity for Chehalis students,” said W. F. West Principal Bob Walters. “With our focus on Career and College Readiness, and the goal for our students to attain a living-wage career, we know they are going to need post-secondary training and a college-going attitude. We believe the early access to CiHS will improve college attendance, develop persistence among students, and give students a realistic idea of what college requires.”

Students who engage in dual-credit programs while in high school are more likely to graduate from high school and to enroll in college and graduate with a degree of credential.

Data also suggest that those who don’t pursue any credential after high school may be concerned about a number of factors – including concerns about cost, stress and life circumstances. 

The really great news is that the Washington Legislature appears to have passed a new bill, Senate Bill 5048, which would eliminate College in the High School fees. Right now, high school students pay about $325 for each five-credit college class they take at W. F. West. While scholarships are available, the cost can get in the way of some students taking advantage of CiHS classes. “Eliminating this fee will make CiHS courses much more affordable, and attractive to our students and their families,” said W. F. West Counselor Shawna Goble.

Recently, at a meeting of the Chehalis Board of Directors, the principal/counselor team presented an overview of the W. F. West CiHS program. “We are moving forward in growing our CiHS program for accessible, in-person college opportunities for our students,” said Goble. She went on to introduce some new CiHS offerings beginning in the fall of 2023:

  • Introduction to Literature
  • Weight Training
  • Functions and Reasoning
  • Introduction to Geology
  • Public Speaking
  • Aerobic Walking
  • Personal Finance
  • Introduction to Education

In order to offer these classes, a high school must have supportive and qualified teachers. “Our incredible teaching staff are a big part of this equation,” said Walters. “Many of them have stepped up and applied for an adjunct professor position at the college or university level.” Teachers in the CiHS program are required to have a Master’s Degree, go through a rigorous interview and transcript review, and train with university staff each year.

W.F. West has increased CiHS offerings over the past few years. As a result, there are fewer students leaving the high school campus for Running Start classes, opting instead for CiHS courses. “Our collective dream,” said Goble, “is to offer one full year of college classes at our high school within the next three years.”