Rock Valley College lets high schoolers get a jump on college
SOUTH BELOIT, ILL. At South Beloit High School, students have an opportunity to get a running start on college.
The South Beloit School District became a part of Rock Valley College’s Running Start program this fall. The program allows students to attend classes at Rock Valley College in Rockford to earn high school and college credit.
“When they leave after their senior year, there’s a good chance they will have their two-year degree plus their high school graduation certificate,” South Beloit Superintendent Scott Fisher said.
Rock Valley College President Jack Becherer said the program helps students complete some of their coursework and credits ahead of time if they decide to attend a four-year college or university after graduation.
“Some students don’t complete their associate’s degree (after they participate in the Running Start program),” Becherer said. “But when they graduate in their senior year, they have 35 more credits when they go onto a university of their choice.”
The program is available to juniors and seniors. In order to participate, students must have at least a 3.5 grade point average, be in good academic standing, be recommended by a counselor or administrator and be accepted by Rock Valley College. The students also must take a placement test at the college.
“The students must have strong math skills. They must have excellent reading skills and they have to be ready to take a college-level writing course,” Becherer said.
Eleven South Beloit High School students are involved with the program this year. The students take classes in math, science, history and English, as well as an elective. Mariah Wohlrab said she finds the college schedule to be easier than a high school schedule.
“I like it. I like it better than high school, because it’s more laid back, and you have more time in between classes, and you don’t have every class every day...,” Wohlrab said. “A lot of it depends on your professor, because some of them teach differently than what we’re used to. Some of (the professors) are more laid-back, and some of the professors are harder, because they don’t teach you like the high school teachers do. So, it really depends on the type of professor you have.”
Senior Chris Aurand said attending the program will help him be better prepared for life after high school.
“You get a sample of (college), actually,” Aurand said. “It’s not like you’re just jumping in. You have the high school where if you have any questions, you can go back and get help from your old teachers. So, you get help when you need it, and you still get the whole college experience.”
Wohlrab said attending classes at Rock Valley has helped her improve her study skills.
“I never studied in high school like I should’ve, because I didn’t feel like I really needed to,” Wohlrab said. “But now that I’m at Rock Valley, I realize I should’ve studied, because I didn’t have good study habits like I should’ve when I went to college. I think that will help when I go to a four-year college, because I will be studying like I should be.”
Fisher said the program allows students to take classes that are not available to them at the high school, which is the main reason the district decided to make the program available to students.