How would you like to have two years of college done as you graduate from high school?
Running Start is a program that partners with Belvidere North to allow academically driven, qualified students to attend Rock Valley College for their junior and senior years. Students who choose to do this can simultaneously earn their associate’s degree and their high school diploma with dual credit.
In order to qualify, sophomores with a GPA of 3.0 and higher are mailed information about the program and are given a permission slip to attend the group testing field trip to RVC. Students have to pass the Accuplacer test in order to sign up for Rock Valley classes next fall semester.
North students visited RVC on Monday and Tuesday of this week for testing. There were three sections- Reading, Sentence Skills, and Elementary Algebra. It was also very convenient for students to receive their scores a day or two after the test, compared to waiting months after taking the PSAT or ACT.
The Running Start program offers a lot of opportunity for students, especially those who would like to pursue a degree that would take them more than four years. It’d be nice to walk out of high school with two years of college finished.
However, some colleges will not accept all of the credits earned from RVC. Looking into college choices early can help to make sure that the Running Start credits will transfer when moving schools.
I think another huge plus to attending RVC is that the Running Start program is free. Students have the responsibility to purchase textbooks and necessary school supplies, but the classes are paid for by the school district. This is very helpful in lowering student debt and making college more financially possible for colleges. It can also lower the number of years for college, but that takes away from the experience.
The RVC schedule is also very neat, as students in the program generally have school only four days a week, and they aren’t going to class all of those days.
“I like it! I recommend it if you don’t mind being more independent, and you have more freedom,” said Chelsey Recendez (‘19), a Running Start student this year.
RVC students who go to North can still attend athletic events, theater performances, participate in extracurricular activities, and go to school dances even though they aren’t attending North every day.
On the other hand, high school only happens once in a lifetime. For those who really enjoy high school, it may be a good idea to stay at BNHS and get the most out of junior and senior years. It’s also a lot easier to get classes with friends at North than it is at RVC. I don’t think running start is for me, but it’s a great opportunity that is perfect for some other students.
Instead of earning college credit at RVC, students have the chance to take AP (Advanced Placement) classes at North in order to receive college credit if they pass the AP test. These classes move at a faster pace and challenge students more than regular or even accelerated classes. There are many courses available as AP classes, such as US History, Statistics, Calculus, Environmental Science, Biology, Computer Science, Psychology, Physics, and more. Students do have to pay to take the AP tests, but it’s a cheaper option compared to paying for classes in college.
Overall, Running Start is a very neat program, but it isn’t for everyone. For those who don’t enjoy being at high school or want to attend college for a more than four year degree, RVC should be considered. Although the group testing field trips are done, it is still possible to sign up to test alone if you received information in the mail.
AP classes are a good alternative for students that choose to stay at BNHS, and students can enjoy all four years of high school, especially their upperclassmen years.