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Does IB prepare students for college?

When considering the International Baccalaureate (IB) Programme, it’s common to ask yourself, “Will this prepare me for college and in what areas does it help me develop?”

ISB offers the IB Programme alongside a choice of courses tailored to individual students’ interests. The IB is widely recognized as the world-leading college entrance exam – it’s a challenging and highly engaging course of study that gives students the best preparation for further education anywhere in the world.

But before understanding exactly how the IB Programme can help your child get into the college of their choosing, it’s important to grasp exactly what the IB is and what it entails.

The IB Diploma Programme (DP) is a two-year pre-university curriculum that involves challenge, academic studies and promotes international-mindedness and critical thinking.

At ISB, this program encourages our students to ask challenging questions, teaches them how to learn, helps them develop their own identity and culture, and empowers them with purpose and compassion.

"With the IB Programme, you can matriculate from the International School of Beijing to a British university, to a Canadian university, even to a Japanese university, there are a lot of options available," says Patrick Stenger, who leads our High School counseling team.

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Research suggests, according to the IB website, that IB students are more likely than their peers to complete their undergraduate degrees and pursue graduate work; additionally, IB students are more likely to be engaged in diverse aspects of university life.

And knowing this, students who were enrolled in the IB Programme are even more appealing to colleges.

When students apply with the IB Diploma, there are no concerns from universities that they are getting a strong, resilient, hard-working candidate because they know successful candidates have met the demands of this two-year challenge,” says Belinda McRoberts, our IBDP Coordinator.

And according to a report produced by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) on behalf of the IBO in 2011, not only are IB graduates appealing to post-secondary institutions, they also are more likely to get into their top choice of schools around the world.

Now that we understand why IB helps you get into college, let’s focus on the specifics of how the program prepares you.

How does IB prepare you for college?

The IB Programme has many characteristics that are similar to colleges, which prepares students for post-secondary life in many fundamental ways.

1. The IB Programme is academically challenging

The Higher Level courses are not only demanding, but the content is quite similar to university coursework, according to Ms. McRoberts. “In fact, many universities give credit for high scores in these classes.”

In addition to the challenge of the coursework, students also develop excellent time management skills given they are trying to keep their grades high and they have to complete the Extended Essay and Theory of Knowledge course.

The Extended Essay is a university-level paper that the students need to produce independently and Theory of Knowledge is a course that helps students evaluate what they know, how they know it, and be critical of their sources.

“Working their way through these tasks certainly prepares them for requirements in any university course,” says Ms. McRoberts. “These are invaluable [learning opportunities] not just for post-secondary but for their life in this very information-overloaded social media culture.”

ISB alumna Evelyn Li says choosing to study the IB helped her hone her productivity and time management skills – she’s ready and excited for her start at the University of Chicago.

These types of courses not only teach students how to effectively manage their time, they also teach them strong research and writing skills, critical thinking abilities, and inspire them to have an international outlook, all of which are invaluable both for a student’s time in college and life outside of school.

2. The IB Programme teaches students how to study

The IB Programme – and inherently, the exams that are within it – are cognitively complex. Rather than creating difficult exams, questions, assignments, and so on (the traditional testing method that values the quantity of work over work that targets deep intellectual stimulation), the IB inspires our students to actually enjoy learning; it helps them create, understand, and apply rather than memorize.

This approach to learning helps students learn to study in a more effective way. Rather than multiple-choice, tests include multiple open-ended answers meaning students need to understand the question asked, rather than solely memorize an answer.

By the time a student is in college, they are well-equipped with the right study techniques that actually work for them.

How does the IB prepare students for life outside of college?

The IB Programme goes beyond solely helping students get into their best-fit college of choice, it also prepares them for the unknown that comes with walking across the stage and graduating from their post-secondary institution.

It prepares them for employment, fostering a sense of “I can do this” with everything they are assigned. It fosters a love of collaboration and helps give them the confidence to take calculated risks.

The IB helps students develop a sense of social and personal responsibility, as it focuses on the development of the whole child rather than solely on academic prowess. By requiring students to complete creative pursuits, physical activities, and service projects, they develop more than just good grades, students are caring, inquiring, and knowledgeable. Students who study the IB are those who help create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.

Programs such as the IB require innovative, positive learning environments, and ISB is a great example of this type of facility. Click the link below to explore our campus and see our positive learning environment in action

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ISB is an extraordinary school, made so by a tradition of educational excellence spanning 40 years. Establishing, nurturing, and growing such an exceptional learning community has been and remains intentional; we work hard to build strong relationships so our learning is at its best.

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