How the IB Curriculum Gets You Into College

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Every year, the New York Times and other leading newspapers are filled with articles about the increasing competition to get admitted into college. The intense competition fills many students with anxiety and concern – are they doing enough to get admitted to their university of choice?

You may wonder, “What courses they should take in high school to prepare for college study?” Many students take Advanced Placement (AP) courses but fewer take the IB. The International Baccalaureate curriculum (or IB curriculum) provides a demanding, internationally recognized set of courses, exams and diplomas that prepares students for advanced study. Excelling in IB courses can not only get you admitted to college but many institutions will actually give you degree credit for your IB courses.

What Does The IB Program Require of High School Students?

The International Baccalaureate is offered at several levels of study by private and public schools around the world. High school students typically focus on the IB Diploma as it provides a broad education and preparation for university study. Students studying for the diploma must complete six courses and may choose from a selection of courses: English, a foreign language, mathematics and computer science, economics, history, theatre and the arts.

In addition to the courses described above, the diploma has three central components that all students must complete; an extended essay, theory of knowledge and creativity, action and service (CAS). The extended essay is expected to be approximately four thousand words in length and explore a topic of interest to the student. The theory of knowledge, a special interdisciplinary component of IB, encourages students to explore philosophical questions and the nature of knowledge. The final core IB component expects students to engage in creative pursuits such as music, physical fitness and learning through volunteer activities.

The Benefits of the IB for College Study

Universities vary on their approach to assessing the IB diploma and coursework but most view it as a positive achievement. Some departments at the University of California – Berkeley, for example, grant students degree credit for both IB and AP course work. In many instances, graduate and professional degree programs do not provide credit for the IB. There are other benefits to consider beyond degree credit however.

The core components of the IB curriculum, especially the theory of knowledge and the extended essay, prepare students for large projects and the intellectual demands of college work. After drafting such a long essay, some IB diploma holders may even find freshman courses easy! The interdisciplinary emphasis of the diploma also reminds students that there is a wider world beyond their major. The program’s emphasis on service, athletic activity and creative expression provides a lifelong lesson; work and study are not the only elementary to a successful and flourishing life.

What Schools Offer the IB Curriculum To Students?

Every year, more and more schools become accredited to offer the IB curriculum to their students but it is far from a universal offering. If your school does not offer it, you have a number of options. First, consult with your guidance counselor and see what opportunities they can suggest. You can also check with your school district and consult the list of IB schools on the International Baccalaureate organization website.

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