The 411 on IB

What is the International Baccalaureate program? (From a student's perspective)

As eighth graders are preparing to make high school decisions, I have been asked a lot recently about the International Baccalaureate (IB) program that we offer here at . As incoming freshmen families frantically try to research the facts about which high school fits them the best, the IB program is one topic that a lot of them have yet to fully figure out.

I’m here to answer the most commonly asked questions about what this program is and why we offer it. Keep in mind that this does not include all the facts and innermost details that a professional could offer, but gives you a student’s perspective about IB. 

What is IB?

IB is basically Sequoia’s version of honors classes. Instead of Advanced Placement (AP) classes, we have IB classes. They have similar rigor and challenges. The IB program is recognized internationally while AP is mostly used in the U.S. and Canada. IB students can take both IB and AP exams while AP students can take only AP exams. One of the benefits of IB is the fact that once a student receives the IB diploma, it will be recognized in other countries. 


Do I have to take all IB classes?

No. A student can take as many or as few IB classes as they wish. If one chooses to get the IB diploma however, then they must take all IB classes, do the required number of community service hours in specified categories, take the Theory of Knowledge class, and write a (very long) essay.


When does it start?

A student does not enter the IB program until he or she has reached his or her junior year. As an underclassmen, one will be placed in the “ICAP” program where he or she will undergo classes at a higher, more advanced level (essentially like honors classes) in order to prepare them for IB. 


Is it hard? 

Yes. This is high school. Of course it is hard. Lots of students I know pull all-nighters. The workload is very intense, especially if a student chooses to pursue the IB diploma. It is a lot of reading and writing in all classes. Procrastination is not highly recommended. 


How do colleges see it?

They see that you took the hardest possible route in high school. They see that you chose to challenge yourself. They see that you are a serious student.


Will I have any free time?

You might have to scale back on the amount of Modern Family that you watch, but overall, students still find time to be in the band, dance, and participate in athletics. A student might have to decline invitations and stay home to work on homework, but in the long run it is worth it. Or so I have been told…

Hopefully this enlightened you just a little bit on what the IB program entails. If you have any other questions please let me know. I always want to help… especially if it encourages you to come to my wonderful school!

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Lorraine Rumley February 27, 2012 at 05:29 PM
My oldest daughter was one of the first to graduate from Sequoia with an IB diploma in 2005. She went on to graduate in 2009 with a degree in Structural Engineering from UC San Diego. My youngest graduated with an IB diploma in 2008. She will graduate from UC Berkeley with a degree in Geology this spring. Both were involved with sports and other outside activies. Was it hard for them - definitely. Did that hard work pay off - (1) they were able to access competitive colleges (2) transition to college course work was smooth (3) they had excellent time management skills. The only struggle was with their physics classes. They felt they were behind their peers. Is IB for every student? Perhaps. Students don't have to follow the IB diploma route, they can take just one or two classes. Parents - don't push your child into the full diploma program. They have to be self motivated and do this because they want the challenge. Excellent program!
Noah Dearborn February 28, 2012 at 01:27 AM
Another great article LG! Great first-hand perspective on the IB Program
Ellen Vera March 13, 2012 at 09:03 PM
I wondered about the IB program. It's refreshing to hear abut it from a student's viewpoint.


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