How can the International Baccalaureate Program Benefit Students?

Written By Sally Forsyth

As an international student, you are no doubt researching which high school abroad would be the best option for you. Every school will have a different academic curriculum for example, and it is important to investigate what the pros and cons are in relation to the programs and subjects on offer. This also depends on what your dreams and goals are for the future in relation to career plans and what you want to major in university.

Why study the International Baccalaureate Diploma in High School?

As you research schools, you will find that many schools in different countries offer the International Baccalaureate DIploma program in grades 11 and 12. The IB Diploma program is a  demanding two-year program with the aim of giving students excellent preparation for university and beyond. It also has a major focus on developing critical thinking and time management skills. Most IB students learn how to manage heavy workloads during the two-year program so when they get to university they find it easier to manage the demands of their university studies.

History of the I.B

The IB  began in 1968 in Geneva, Switzerland, with the objective of creating an international curriculum. The aim of this curriculum was not only to raise global awareness and understanding but also facilitate mobility both geographically and culturally. Currently, there are more than 3000 schools worldwide in over 15O countries who implement the IB Diploma program.

How does I.B work?

Students taking the IB diploma are required to study at least two languages and choose six subjects from different subject groups. The subject groups are Mathematics, Arts, Sciences, Individuals and Societies ( This basically means Humanities subjects), Language Acquisition, and Studies in Language and Literature. Students must choose one subject from each group but they also have the option of studying additional sciences, languages or individual and societies subjects instead of choosing a subject in the Arts

Sciences include subjects such as Physics, Chemistry and Biology, Computer Science and Design Technology. Arts subjects include Music, Theater Studies, Film,  Dance and Visual Arts. Having said that, every school is different so although they will offer Core subjects like Mathematics, Studies in Language and Literature and the Sciences, not every school will offer all the subjects in other subject groups such as Individuals and Societies and the Arts. So you really need to research exactly what specific subjects each school offers to see if this suits your needs.

Additional Requirements

As well as the six required subjects, students must also fulfill certain other requirements. There are three essential elements that students must fulfill to pass the Diploma, They must complete a certain amount of hours over the two years in the Creativity, Activity and Service program. This can include, for example, hours spent volunteering in the local community, getting involved in sports in school and participating in creative activities like the school play. There are opportunities for many different options, allowing students to fulfill this requirement using their particular interests and skills.  

 Secondly, they must take a course called Theory of Knowledge which covers a range of topics.  This course is aimed at teaching not only critical thinking but teaching students to think outside the box and look at global issues and other topics from different perspectives. At the end of the course, students must write an essay and prepare a presentation both of which are prerequisites for fulfilling the requirements of the Diploma program. Thirdly, students must write a 4000-word Extended Essay on a topic of their choice. This task is rigorous and demanding but  it is really excellent preparation for the types of essays and assignments students will have to take on at university level,

How can the International Baccalaureate benefit me?

Apart from being an excellent preparation for university, there is also another great reason to study the I.B. Most universities have tremendous respect and high esteem for the IB Diploma program and are well aware that any student who takes the IB Diploma will be an excellent candidate for their university courses.  The I.B. Diploma is accepted as a university entrance requirement in universities all over the world. Not only that, hundreds of universities give credit for individual IB. subjects which means that you don't need to take the initial first-year university courses in certain areas like English, Math or Second Languages. This will save you a lot of time and a lot of money!

Having taught the I.B many years, I can say that students find it very demanding when they are going through it. However, once they go to university they find that their studies are much easier for them due to the rigorous I.B Diploma they followed for two years. They also like the fact that because they are I.B schools all over the world, if they have to move schools for any reason at the end of Grade 11 they can continue their studies in an I.B school in their home country or anywhere else.

It also nurtures a more global perspective towards learning and develops an appreciation for other cultures and other ways of thinking. Most universities are keen to accept students who have a sense of international awareness and tolerance for different points of view.

So as you are researching which high school abroad is best for you, check out which schools offer the International Baccalaureate program. You will be glad you did and you might just find the perfect school in your chosen location which also gives you the advantage of an excellent. I.B education!

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About the author

Sally Forsyth is a High school English teacher and an educational coach. She has worked in national and internatonal schools in different countries and different school systems, She is also the founder of CoachMyFuture, a coaching organization focusing on coaching teachers and educators in the educational sector.

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