IB or Running Start?

I’m going into highschool next year and I know I’m young and probably shouldn’t think about this yet but I still would like to know if IB or Running Start is better, I know the pros and cons of both and am leaning towards Running Start. My high school doesn’t offer AP classes so it’s between those two choices.

IB vs DE
IB tests are well known nationally and are uniform across the nation
• You can look on any college’s website and see what credit you will get for what scores on the IB tests
• IB Courses are given at your High School
• IB Credit is based on a test you take on one day
• IB courses generally are more spread out…e.g., HL Math = Calc 1/2 is given over 1 or 2 yeasr, not a semester.

• There are more of a variety of DE courses available at a CC
• DE courses will count as a college GPA…make sure to do well for future Med school/grad school purposes.
• DE Courses may be only available at the CC…how will you get there? How will they overlap with your HS schedule?
• Private and Out of State Colleges may or may not give you credit. They may not give credit for courses taken to fulfill HS requirements. You do not know what credit you can get ahead of time. Make sure to keep a copy of your syllabus to aid in determining credit.
• DE Credit is based on your grades over the semester (including final)
• Public In-state schools will give you credit for DE courses. You may be able to get up to 2 years of credits.
• DE classes may be taken at the local Community College…how will transportation work?
• For DE classes, the “grade” doesn’t rely on one test on one day but over a whole semester.
• DE Courses may be more condensed…e.g., Chem 101 is over one semester, not a year.

Bottom LIne: If you are likely to go to a State U or College, do Running Start. If you are likely to go a top Private U, do IB.

IB is not just course offerings, but it is a highly structured curriculum. Take a look at the curriculum to see if the structure appeals to you, or forces you to take things you are less interested in while excluding things you want to take. Also, make note of which courses are offered at SL (standard level), HL (higher level), or both, and see whether that matches your interests.

For the DE option, consider which courses are available to you and whether they match your interests. Some DE programs let you choose from the entire list of offerings at a nearby college, while others have restricted options, or are at colleges where the most desirable courses are commonly full before allowing high school DE students to register.

In terms of workload, IB courses are generally considered a lot of work. If DE includes actual college courses at a college (as opposed to college course syllabus taught in a high school manner by high school teachers), then you will be able to sample how college courses work (requires better time management and self motivation, since there is less supervision than in high school).

I am not very familiar with Running Start, but I agree with @ucbalumnus regarding IB. It’s a great program for certain types of kids and not so great for others. It is a rigorous and very structured program, so you need to study how it works and see if it is a good fit for you. For example, in your last two years of high school, when you are in the actual diploma program, you will take the same set of courses for those two years and they must include a particular mix of high level and standard level classes. My son wanted to do IB because he preferred the researching and writing emphasis over the emphasis on tests in AP, and he is still satisfied it was the right choice for him. It clearly prepared him very well for college.

I don’t know where the OP is from, but here in WA, Running Start is the name for dual-credit community college courses taken at the local community colleges.

As a teacher in WA, my impression is that Running Start is a decent option for students who intend to pursue in-state college careers, especially in technical or non-competitive admissions programs. It is of less use for applying to private or selective out-of-state colleges. And for applying to highly selective programs in-state such as computer science or business administration at UW-Seattle. My oldest daughter took both running start classes and AP classes. She attended an OOS state school and found that her AP credits transferred but her running start credits did not.

I am advising my own kids to stick with the AP curriculum at their local HS rather than doing running start. Because they are interested in competitive admissions private schools and our own highly competitive in-state flagship. And not trying to be done in 3 years or less. If they were looking to attend a local or regional public in the cheapest and fastest way possible then I’d probably suggest running start.

However, if a high school student gets beyond AP level in some subject areas, then often the only option to keep taking courses in those subject areas is to take college courses.

If you plan to apply for med school or law school, I would be very wary of dual enrollment classes. Grades in college classes will count in your college GPA, even if taken in 9th grade. Some high school students are just not ready for college classes, not due to intelligence, but due to maturity. B’s, C’s etc can really damage their chances to get admitted to professional schools many years later.