Running Start

Running Start is a program that allows select, qualified, academically-motivated students enrolled in participating high schools an opportunity to earn both their high school diploma and associate's degree concurrently by attending Rock Valley College full-time during their junior and/or senior years of high school!

How to Get Started

  1. Speak with your high school counselor about eligibility and determine which program is right for you.
  2. Apply to Rock Valley College
  3. Take the ACCUPLACER Placement Test through your high school for college-level reading, sentence skills, and math. You may submit ACT/SAT scores for a possible waiver of the ACCUPLACER.

Contact Us


For detailed information, please review the Running Start Handbook

About the Program

Please check with your high school counselor for programs offered at your school. There are two program options:

  • One-Year Program: Offers seniors the opportunity to earn one year of college credit (one-year program is a non-degree completion)
  • Two-Year Program: Offers juniors degree completion of an Associate of Arts or Associate in Science

To be eligible, students must have:

  • Strong academic standing in high school to guarantee high school graduation completion of Running Start Program
  • A minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 in high school at the time of application
  • Must be in at least sophomore year of high school to apply for the Running Start Program
  • By the end of sophomore year, students must complete one year of Algebra, one year of Geometry (or Integrated Math 1 and Integrated Math 2), two years of English, and one year of Chemistry with a grade of “B” or higher.
  • School districts may elect to add additional qualifications. Please check with your high school to see if you qualify.

If you have officially been accepted to the program, you will receive an acceptance packet in the mail from RVC Early College.

The Acceptance Packet includes the Participation Agreement and Student Information Sheet:

  • The Participation Agreement outlines program requirements including attendance policies, academic conduct policies, and any other applicable College policies. Running Start students must follow the RVC academic calendar and the instructors’ syllabus. Students will be held responsible for adhering to the contents of the Running Start Academic Conduct Policies and the RVC Student Handbook.
  • Students must provide a valid email address on the Running Start Student Information Sheet and Participation Agreement for future RVC technology account set-up. The required student and parent/guardian signatures on the Participation Agreement enable RVC Early College to share the student’s academic record with the high school and parent/guardian. Signing the Agreement also allows student academic data to be utilized in reports to the state for presentations and publication.

The program begins with a mandatory two-week summer course: STU-100: Planning for Success.

  • Class date and time options will be provided in the Acceptance Packet. Courses will be offered during the end of May or beginning of June.
  • STU-100: Planning for Success is designed to introduce and connect students to the RVC community and to assist in the active development of academic and personal goals. Students will work with instructors to learn strategies for their transition into college.

Course registration and schedules are obtained through the following process:

  1. Meet with your high school counselor for high school graduation and semester schedules.
  2. The RVC Early College office will help you register for your classes according to RVC priority registration dates.
  3. View your class schedule on your Online Services account.
  4. If you need to make any changes to your schedule, meet with your high school counselor.
  5. You will need to submit a Running Start Schedule Adjustment Form to the Early College office if you drop or withdraw from a course.

Note about Academic Standing: You must maintain good academic standing to remain in the Running Start program. If your GPA falls below a 2.50 or you receive a “D”, “W”, or “F” on your transcript, you will be placed on Academic Probation. Academic Probation will require you to meet with an advisor from the Early College office to develop an Individual Academic Recovery Plan (IARP). If you fail to raise your GPA to 2.5 or higher after the probation semester, you may be dismissed from the program.


Is Running Start right for me?

Students and their families should determine if Running Start is a good fit based on the student’s maturity and ability. Things to consider:

  • College tuition is paid in part or in whole depending on the local school district.
  • Students are responsible for books, supplies and transportation.
  • Running Start students are NOT eligible for financial aid.
  • Students in the 2-year programs complete an Associate’s Degree at the same time as graduating high school.
  • Students in the 1-year program earn college credits, building towards a degree.
  • Transferability of credits is determined by the transfer/4-year institution.
  • Grades become part of an official college transcript.
  • Running Start extends the variety of classes available to high school students.
  • Students may miss the social aspect of high school; however, there are many opportunities to participate in extra-curricular activities at RVC, including Running Start Club.
  • No parent/guardian/teacher conferences, progress reports, or mid-term grades sent home.
  • The RVC Academic Calendar is different from the high school calendar and must be followed.


"Being in a college environment for the first time, you may be a little worried about talking to your peers in class, teachers, or advisors – but do that at much as you can."

Lucy Njaramba
Running Start, 2022