Pros and Cons of Running Start

dual enrollment program evaluation

Running Start provides high school students the chance to accelerate their college education, offering cost savings, early graduation, and enhanced college readiness. It enables students to tackle college-level coursework, explore diverse subjects, and adapt to collegiate learning environments. However, challenges like time management, limited social interactions, and academic adjustments can arise. Maneuvering the pros and cons of Running Start requires careful consideration of individual priorities and goals. By understanding these aspects, students can make informed decisions about their academic journey and future success.


  • Pros:
  • Academic challenge and exploration.
  • Significant cost savings.
  • Accelerated academic progress.
  • Increased college readiness.
  • Smooth transition to university life.
  • Cons:
  • Time management challenges.
  • Limited social interaction.
  • Academic adjustment difficulties.
  • Social and extracurricular limitations.
  • Potential for increased stress levels.

Advantages of Running Start

Frequently touted as a cost-effective way to earn college credits while in high school, Running Start offers numerous advantages to motivated students. One of the primary benefits is the opportunity for students to challenge themselves academically by taking college-level courses, which can better prepare them for the rigor of higher education.

In addition, Running Start provides a chance for students to explore different subjects and potential career paths before committing to a specific major in college.

Moreover, participating in Running Start can lead to substantial cost savings for families, as students can earn college credits at little to no cost compared to traditional college tuition fees. This program also allows students to graduate from college earlier, saving both time and money in the long run.

Besides, Running Start students often experience smoother progressions to college life due to their prior exposure to a collegiate learning environment.

Potential College Credit Savings

One substantial advantage of participating in Running Start is the potential for considerable savings on college credits. This program allows high school students to earn college credits while still in high school, potentially reducing the number of credits they need to take once they enroll in a college or university.

The potential college credit savings can lead to both financial and time-related benefits for students and their families.

Potential College Credit Savings:

  • Cost-Effective: Running Start courses are often free or notably cheaper compared to traditional college tuition fees, leading to cost savings on obtaining a degree.
  • Early Progress: By earning college credits in high school, students can accelerate their academic progress and potentially graduate earlier, saving on tuition and related expenses.
  • Transferable Credits: Many Running Start credits are transferable to a wide range of colleges and universities, allowing students to start their higher education with a head start on their degree requirements.

Accelerated Academic Progress

The opportunity for accelerated academic progress is a significant benefit of participating in Running Start for high school students. By enrolling in Running Start, students have the chance to take college-level courses while still in high school, allowing them to challenge themselves with more rigorous academic material. This acceleration can lead to a faster completion of college prerequisites and general education requirements, giving students a head start on their higher education journey.

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Accelerated academic progress through Running Start can also provide students with a taste of the college experience, helping them shift smoothly from high school to a university setting. This early exposure to college-level coursework can enhance students' critical thinking skills, time management abilities, and overall academic preparedness for the challenges of higher education.

Moreover, the accelerated pace of learning in Running Start can enable students to explore a wider range of subjects and potentially graduate from college earlier, saving both time and money in the long run.

Increased College Readiness

Enhancing college readiness through Running Start involves numerous advantages. To start with, students can benefit from increased academic preparation, helping them ease seamlessly into the rigor of college-level coursework.

Moreover, the dual credit opportunities available allow students to earn credits that count towards both high school graduation and college requirements.

To conclude, the early exposure to college environments and expectations provides an invaluable advantage in relation to familiarity and readiness for higher education.

Academic Preparation Benefits

Improving academic readiness greatly contributes to enhancing students' preparedness for the challenges of college. Strong academic readiness provides students with a solid foundation that can benefit them in various ways as they progress to higher education.

Development of Critical Thinking Skills: By engaging in rigorous coursework and challenging academic environments, students can enhance their critical thinking skills. This enables them to analyze information, make informed decisions, and approach complex problems with a logical mindset.

Enhanced Study Habits and Time Management: Academic readiness often requires students to develop effective study habits and time management skills. These skills are pivotal for success in college, where the workload can be demanding.

Exposure to College-level Work: Through academic readiness, students can experience coursework that mirrors the expectations of college-level studies. This exposure helps them become familiar with the academic rigor and challenges they may encounter in higher education, better preparing them for success in college.

Dual Credit Opportunities

Development of critical thinking skills and exposure to college-level work through academic readiness can seamlessly pave the way for students to benefit from dual credit opportunities, thereby increasing their college readiness.

By engaging in Running Start programs, high school students have the chance to earn both high school and college credit simultaneously, providing them with a head start towards their higher education journey.

Dual credit opportunities allow students to experience the rigor of college courses while still receiving guidance and support from their high school environment. This exposure not only helps students adapt to the demands of college-level work but also aids in developing essential time management and study skills necessary for success in higher education.

Furthermore, earning college credits during high school can lead to cost savings for students and their families by reducing the number of credits needed to complete a college degree. This financial advantage can alleviate the burden of student loans and make higher education more accessible for many individuals.

Early Exposure Advantage

An early exposure advantage in Running Start programs is the increased college readiness it provides to high school students. By participating in Running Start, students gain valuable experience that better prepares them for the academic rigor of college. This early exposure advantage offers a range of benefits:

  • Academic Challenge: Running Start courses are typically more advanced than high school classes, challenging students to think critically and develop strong study habits. This exposure to higher-level coursework equips students with the skills needed to succeed in a college setting.
  • Time Management Skills: Juggling Running Start courses alongside high school responsibilities teaches students valuable time management skills. Learning to balance coursework, extracurricular activities, and personal commitments prepares students for the time constraints they will face in college.
  • College Environment Familiarity: By attending college classes, students become acquainted with the campus environment, academic expectations, and college-level interactions. This exposure helps alleviate the adjustment shock many students experience when starting college full-time.
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Drawbacks of Running Start

While Running Start offers numerous benefits, there are also some drawbacks to ponder. Students often struggle with time management challenges as they juggle high school and college coursework simultaneously. Additionally, the limited social interaction in a college setting may hinder some students' overall growth and development. Academic adjustment difficulties can also arise as students shift to the rigor and expectations of college-level courses.

Time Management Challenges

Effective time management becomes an essential aspect for students participating in Running Start due to the balancing act between high school and college coursework. The challenges of juggling academic responsibilities from two different educational levels can be overwhelming for many students.

Here are some common time management challenges faced by Running Start participants:

  • Double Workload: Students in Running Start often find themselves overwhelmed by the amount of coursework they need to complete for both high school and college classes.
  • Travel Time: Commuting between high school and college campuses can consume a significant portion of a student's day, leaving less time for studying and other activities.
  • Different Schedules: High school and college classes may have conflicting schedules, making it difficult for students to attend all their classes and stay on top of assignments.

These time management challenges can lead to increased stress levels and a higher risk of burnout among Running Start students. It is essential for these students to develop effective time management strategies to navigate these obstacles successfully.

Limited Social Interaction

Limited social interaction is a significant drawback experienced by many students in Running Start programs. Due to the nature of Running Start, where students take college-level courses at a local community college instead of attending traditional high school classes, opportunities for socializing with peers are limited.

In high school, students interact with a diverse group of peers daily, participating in extracurricular activities, sports, and events. However, Running Start students may miss out on these social experiences as they spend a significant amount of time on college campuses, often surrounded by older students.

The lack of social interaction can lead to feelings of isolation and disconnect from the typical high school experience. Building friendships and a sense of community becomes more challenging in a college setting where students may not have as many shared experiences or opportunities for casual interactions.

Additionally, limited social interaction can impact students' social skills development and emotional well-being, as social connections are essential for personal growth and support during the formative teenage years.

Academic Adjustment Difficulties

The academic challenges faced by students in Running Start programs can present significant hurdles in their educational journey. Shifting from high school to college-level coursework can be demanding, leading to various academic adjustment difficulties for Running Start students.

Some common challenges include:

  • Increased Workload: Running Start students often find themselves managing a heavier workload than their peers, balancing high school requirements with college-level expectations.
  • Different Teaching Styles: Adapting to the diverse teaching styles and academic rigor of college courses can be overwhelming for students accustomed to traditional high school teaching methods.
  • Time Management Struggles: With the added responsibilities of college courses, Running Start students may face difficulties in effectively managing their time between classes, homework, extracurricular activities, and personal commitments.
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These academic adjustment difficulties can impact a student's overall performance and well-being, highlighting the importance of providing adequate support and resources for Running Start participants.

Social and Extracurricular Limitations

Engaging in Running Start may present challenges in maintaining a robust social life and participating in a wide range of extracurricular activities. As high school students shift to college-level courses, the time commitment and academic rigor can limit opportunities for social interactions and involvement in extracurricular pursuits.

Students enrolled in Running Start often find themselves juggling demanding coursework with limited time for socializing or engaging in clubs, sports, or other activities outside of academics.

The structured schedule of Running Start can make it difficult for students to coordinate their classes with high school events or extracurricular activities, leading to a sense of isolation or the feeling of missing out on traditional high school experiences. Additionally, the focus on college-level academics may leave students with little energy or time to dedicate to building friendships or exploring interests beyond their coursework.

While Running Start offers the advantage of earning college credits and experiencing a more advanced academic environment, students should carefully consider the potential social and extracurricular limitations that may arise from this accelerated program.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Running Start Affect My Eligibility for Financial Aid?

Participating in Running Start may impact your eligibility for financial aid as it can affect your enrollment status at your primary institution. It's important to consult with your college's financial aid office for personalized guidance.

Are Running Start Credits Transferable to All Colleges?

Running Start credits are generally transferable to most colleges and universities, but the acceptance of these credits ultimately depends on the policies of the specific institution. It is recommended to verify transferability with the desired college.

How Does Running Start Impact High School Graduation Requirements?

Running Start impacts high school graduation requirements by allowing students to earn college credits while in high school. This program may fulfill certain high school course requirements, enabling students to graduate with a diploma and college credits simultaneously.

Can Running Start Courses Fulfill Specific College Major Prerequisites?

Running Start courses can potentially fulfill specific college major prerequisites, providing students with an opportunity to gain early exposure to their academic interests. However, it is advisable for students to verify with their target colleges for confirmation.

What Support Is Available for Running Start Students With Disabilities?

Running Start students with disabilities can access a range of support services, including academic accommodations, counseling, and accessibility resources. These services aim to guarantee equal opportunities for students with disabilities to succeed in their educational pursuits.


Ultimately, Running Start offers potential college credit savings, accelerated academic progress, and increased college readiness.

However, it also comes with drawbacks such as social and extracurricular limitations.

Students considering participating in Running Start should carefully weigh these advantages and disadvantages before making a decision.

Ultimately, the choice to enroll in Running Start will depend on individual academic goals and priorities.