The IB; two letters put together to form a daunting two-year diploma program that can make or break your high school career. The International Baccalaureate, now 45 years old, is present in 126 countries and in 2,268 schools, rendering it a popular and successful program around the globe.
You have most likely already heard the stories of horror and pain; TOK, EE, CAS, IA, RI, IW, IOC, IOP … the acronyms seem endless along with the homework, the stress, and the fatigue. However, if the IB diploma were not a suitable, worthwhile, and beneficial choice, it would not continue to be offered.
The level of rigor between the two courses is debatable, but the IB is more challenging than the AP program. The IB tests and expands your endurance, mental strength, and organizational abilities over the course of two years in a way that no other program is able to. By the end, you will feel more prepared for university than if you had chosen the AP program.
A common misconception is that the IB is only best when planning to pursue a university degree in the UK or in Europe. However, the IB is also widely accepted in the United States. In fact, it is looked upon with admiration, as its rigor is well-known and often commended.
As a student who spent both 9th and 10th grade at ZIS, I was well aware and well educated about each program offered and what each entailed. I chose the full IB diploma program for reasons that I still stand by today as a year-two student approaching final examinations.
Each course is two years long, which brought me comfort in the ability to fully explore and thoroughly learn each subject. The stability of having the same teacher, class, and environment over the course of the two years allows for a deeper understanding of material, knowledge that becomes permanent.
Over time, each class begins to feel like home, or even family, despite the workload. Being able to learn in a comfortable and stable environment has been most beneficial for me, and the material that has been taught over the past two years has been more memorable than any one-year course I took in the past.
The diploma program is particularly beneficial if you have a specific passion. For instance, if you are an artist, the IB Visual Arts course allows you to freely explore your own interests through creating any form of art over two years. Also, if you are planning on going into medicine, the ability to learn an extensive and detailed amount of biology or chemistry over two years is much more beneficial than a one-year course.
It is true that the program requires and develops strong organizational and time management skills. This is one of the main reasons why I do not regret my choice; the IB has made me feel ready for what lies ahead in university. The rigor and struggle of balancing school work with after-school activities, and enough free time to keep us sane, is a direct reflection of the challenges we will all face in future university settings.
My best advice is to select the program that you believe you will succeed in the most. The stability and well-known rigor of the IB was the best choice for me in terms of my chances at success when applying to university. It has prepared me for life after high school in an ideal way that I believe I would not have if I had chosen the AP program.
The IB will help you develop important skills that you will need in the future, not only for university, but also for a career. Its rigidity and structure mirrors university and career life, as we will not always have flexibility to change our minds.
Once decisions are made, we will have to stick with our choices. The IB will train you for the future and teach you that although something may be difficult, it can be overcome with great long-term success.
By: Annalea Maurer