When high school students look for the most difficult classes they can take, they often look for Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) classes. AP classes are relatively well-known in the United States: you take the class, and then take the AP test associated with that class. If you get a 4 or a 5 on the test, you may qualify for college credits upon entering university, meaning you could graduate early.
Fewer high school students understand the International Baccalaureate program though. Students wonder how it differs from the AP program, its specific benefits, and whether or not they should pursue IB courses.
What is the International Baccalaureate program?
It’s an internationally recognized diploma program founded in Switzerland. Although you can take individual IB classes, they are designed to be taken together, creating a “holistic” high school education. The contrasts with AP classes, which focus intensely on one subject matter. You can take a college placement test for both kinds of classes, but you must be enrolled in an IB class to take an IB test.
Another key difference between the AP and IB program – students can start the IB program at a much younger age. Unlike the AP program, the IB program has options for students as young as three years old.
Why Pursue It?
The International Baccalaureate program is considered academically rigorous and held to a high standard. It also caters to those who learn better with hands on activities and group discussion. Furthermore, students interested in going abroad to attend college may find benefits come college application time if they pursued the IB diploma program. Since it is an international standard for education, foreign colleges will know your academics are up to their standards if you received the diploma.
Is the Program Right/Available For You?
Currently, 894 schools in the United States offer the program, so if it’s something you’re interested in, you’ll want to make sure you attend a high school with the program. Note that the program can work differently in different schools though. At some high schools, it’s a program within a program. At others, students can take IB classes without taking the entire curriculum.
As for whether or not it’s right for you, it can be costly, just like AP tests, and the diploma program requires time and focus. However, a good education often requires time and money, so you may want to consider the benefits of putting your resources towards the International Baccalaureate program.
No one can tell you if a particular course or diploma is right for you. However, there are a number of benefits to the International Baccalaureate program that make it worth your consideration. As far as college applications go, the IB program is still unique enough within the United States to set you apart from other applicants, even if you plan on applying to schools within the U.S.