Article by: Vivienne P.

Visual by: Erica N. and Annika A.

Almost all high school students at ISM are familiar with the International Baccalaureate (IB) Program, a two-year course designed to challenge students all over the world. Full diploma students choose three higher level courses and three standard level courses from six areas of academic study: language and literature, language acquisition, individuals and societies, experimental sciences, mathematics, and the arts. Students are also tasked with completing a 4,000 word essay in a subject of their choice, and must fulfill the requirements for the theory of knowledge (TOK) class. The program is notorious for its extremely rigorous coursework, strict expectations, and the high level of stress students have from it. A majority of juniors and seniors at ISM choose to do the IB Program, but is it really necessary?

One of the key parts of the IB Program that makes it so challenging is the length of study required for the course. Each class is stretched out on a two-year period, and culminates in a final exam at the end of those two years. The specific information applies to only a finite set of courses and classes available, giving students less flexibility in their areas of study. Senior Liz S. explained, “since you can’t choose your standard level courses in the same way that you can choose the higher level courses you’re really interested in, it’s difficult to find the same motivation for all your classes”.

Although it is not explicitly stated by teachers and counselors, there is a general consensus among students that you should be doing the IB. However, as senior Harini R. said, “IB doesn’t help highlight the important skills that makes a person valuable in society but instead pushes them with an extreme workload and makes students feel like they’re trapped”. She continued to say, “a lot of colleges don’t really recognize the difficulty we are put through and they equate us to other lower difficulty curriculums of high school education”.

So, in short, IB isn’t really necessary to take if you don’t want to! There are plenty of other options and programs for you to explore (such as AP) in high school that colleges will still recognize and value. Although most students in ISM choose to do IB, this may not exactly mean that you have to do it as well! College is important, but it isn’t something that should force you to choose classes that you don’t enjoy or to take on excess levels of stress. Find a course that fits for you and your personality, and stick with that!

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