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The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

Five Reasons Why You Should Take the IB Diploma Program

A graphic of the logo of the International Baccalaureate. While challenging, there are several advantages to taking the IBDP. (Courtesy of Kiran Singh)

Even though IBDP (International Baccelaureatte Diploma Program) has definitely made students shed a few tears (maybe thousands of tears), the academic program’s benefits can undoubtedly outweigh the detriments. To see these benefits, you simply has to understand the mechanics of the program and look past the mountain of work that can often seem endless. 

  • The IBDP truly, truly prepares you for college academics

The academic rigor of IBDP typically makes students cry, pull out their hair or stare at the wall wondering how on earth it is physically possible for a human being to accomplish such demanding tasks. Facing a final exam based on the cumulative material learned over two years, while writing Internal Assessments (IAs)in every class, as well as an Extended Essay (EE) and the Theory of Knowledge (TOK) essay, can be overwhelming. It is a lot. 

However, during a college tour, when I heard that the senior final exam for some classes is to write a lengthy thesis, I realized that what they are describing is identical to the EE. College academic rigor is equal to or even easier than IBDP. I’ve spoken to my friends in college – they have often said that they are much less stressed in university than they were during their years in high school taking IBDP. IBDP-style exams based on research papers, intense investigation, demanding academics and high-level courses, all help set you up extremely well for university academics. 

  • The IBDP teaches you critical thinking 

Perhaps to a certain degree, every high school teaches some form of critical thinking, however, it is notably ingrained in IBDP students. This is one of the reasons why taking IBDP is so unique. Every single class will encourage and teach critical thinking. Designing research questions and exploring topics through new perspectives help build a critical thinker. Furthermore, IBDP command terms in tests, such as “evaluate” and “to what extent” are focused on making students objectively analyze different factors and assess their significance. This type of evaluation wouldn’t occur in other programs, and it subconsciously builds critical thinking habits that can be implemented in and outside of school life. 

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  • The IBDP teaches you life skills from early on 

Something that frequently coincides with being an IBDP student is having multiple extracurriculars, whether it’s a sport, an instrument or a school club. There is always more going on than academics, including Creativity, Activity and Service (CAS) experiences, CAS projects and simply maintaining a social life. CAS is the mandatory creativity, activity and service hours that have to be completed in order to acquire the IB diploma. To graduate, you need 45 creativity hours, 45 activity hours and 60 service hours. 

Juggling all this you learn how to manage your time wisely, organize, plan and communicate effectively with peers and teachers. You learn to prioritize assignments, balance multiple large assignments, and learn how to take care of yourself in the process. Also, you learn to communicate with teachers, whether it’s about an IA, the EE or simply due to needing extra support in the class. All these skills will later apply to future endeavors, including university and the workforce. 

  • The IBDP has an emphasis on bilingualism and service 

Having a program that focuses on holistically teaching a second language is not something to be taken for granted. While many schools offer Spanish and French classes, the immersion and depth of knowledge that is taught through the IB program for those classes are far more significant than in other schools. Most schools teaching languages emphasize learning the basics, such as grammar and writing style. During the IB Diploma Program, you take either Language and Literature or Literature. 

You read texts from different authors of the culture in order to immerse yourself in the language and attain a level of expertise that goes beyond learning the basics. Furthermore, when taking a language class, the IA is in the form of an oral presentation, differing from the typical written exam. This level of attention given to learning another language enough to communicate effectively is something invaluable. Secondly, while students often see CAS as an added challenge, it forces them to volunteer and find organizations they are passionate about. It provides direct opportunities to give back to the community and others. 

  • The IBDP is tailored to the individual 

IBDP students get to select their three higher level (HL) classes and three standard level (SL) courses. This is significant, as not all programs offer so much choice in course selection. Choosing courses that fit your interest allows students to tailor their high school educational experience. There are IBDP courses for various topics like Biology, Global Politics, Business, etc. Choosing classes you are interested in can make the IBDP more enjoyable and lighten the workload. 

Yes, there are classes you are required to take to fulfill the requirements, but you do have more room to prioritize HL classes which are subjects you are passionate about and select the most SL courses that you do have a degree of interest in. That makes it much easier to study for them. Furthermore, there is such freedom in the written IAs and the EE, which allow students to explore an infinite number of topics

While writing IAs, an EE and maintaining your GPA, it’s difficult to consider that there might be benefits to the program. The IBDP is a lot of work. Nobody will deny that or argue against it. However, especially when you look back at two years of hard academic intensity you could leave grateful. 

Sometimes, though, the workload is excessive. Some assignments are unnecessary and the scheduling can be disorganized. When you are already balancing so much, a list of tedious assignments worth grades is probably the last thing you want to do. While IBDP is important, sometimes the unnecessary additional assignments contribute excessively to the workload of students. 

Suppose a school chooses to add the IBDP program to its curriculum. In that case, there has to be great care and consideration in having a well-organized system, but also ensuring there is a fair balance between IBDP requirements and preparation and smaller assignments. When we have two IA’s due, several tests and quizzes, adding several homework assignments that are worth a grade but do not contribute substantially to learning or understanding, is the last thing anyone wants to do. 

The IBDP is intense, and a gap year may be needed to counter the burnout, but college will be easier, as essays can be written in two days rather than two months, and time management will come much more naturally. You simply have to remember that millions of students have undergone IBDP and emerged on the other side. It was and is designed for humans, even if it sometimes doesn’t seem like it. 

The IBDP program, through its challenges, is manageable, especially as you build the skills to organize and use your time as efficiently as possible. If you utilize what you learn in the IBDP properly, it will help set you up for success in college and in life – not just academically or in work, but in all areas of life. 

By Elektra Gea-Sereti 

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About the Contributor
Elektra Gea-Sereti
Elektra Gea-Sereti, Opinions Editor
Hi my name is Elektra and I am a senior plus the Opinions editor. I have been at Dateline since 9th grade, and my opinion articles range from social media trends to movie reviews. While not being opinionated can be strenuous, I do write the occasional sports, features, and food article. Outside of Dateline, you can find me on the volleyball court, or debating people in Mock Trial. 

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