Why choose IB? Is IB worth it?
International Baccalaureate education is the best college preparation you can find!
But, it can be very time-consuming, costly, and harder work for students.
Is it worth all the time and commitment?
This article will help you decide on why to choose IB! We are going to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the IB program, pros and cons of obtaining the IB diploma, common criticisms of the IB program, and how other colleges view IB vs AP. By the end of this article, you will know exactly why to choose IB vs AP by applying the list of pros and cons of the IB program that we shared!
What are the Biggest Benefits (Pros) of Getting an IB Diploma?
Why would anyone choose IB programs?
It’s always a good idea to start with the benefits to explain which opportunities IB can offer you!
Now, what exactly are the pros getting an IB diploma?
The pros of the IB program include the following:
- First and foremost, this is a globally recognized diploma across the country!
- Completion of IB classes demonstrate the same performance as completion of AP courses.
- IB curriculums can expand on your personal and professional interests using a globalized perspective, with ultimate goals of a well-rounded education.
- IB diploma benefits include a globally recognized diploma that can facilitate your entry into colleges outside of the United States, which can be difficult to do otherwise.
- IB assignments rely heavily on writing; a critical skill for success in college and beyond.
- The costs of IB programs are significantly less than what you would pay for a college course.
- College admissions think highly of IB diplomas; making your application more competitive.
- While this varies, you may have the option to waive college courses with your passing grades on IB exams.
- At the completion of an IB program, you will have an extensive and comprehensive understanding of diverse cultures, perspectives, theories, and critical thinking; this is not always promised from reading textbooks assigned in AP courses.
- Completion of IB programs is not only impressive on your academic record, but also indicates leadership and potential on your professional resume.
- IB diploma holders have access to exclusive scholarship opportunities available only to IB program graduates.
We also want to point out the rigor behind the curriculum of IB diploma. The curriculum is designed as a high quality, cohesive framework that can cultivate critical skills for high performance in professional and academic settings. This is very different from AP programs that do not necessarily frame their courses around a particular paradigm.
That being said, the learning experience in an IB program will be much more holistic than AP, where you only learn about a specific subject. For instance, some students take AP Psychology only to learn about college level content in psychology. On the other hand, IB diploma requirements incorporate a cohesive learning approach to several topics that are expected to be connected and reflected on in essays and research papers after courses are completed.
As you can see, the pros of the IB programs can truly benefit you in the long run, especially if you are interested in getting a uniquely comprehensive form of globalized education rather than an education based strictly on generic standards.
What are Common Criticisms (Cons) of the IB Program?
Now, what are some common criticisms of the IB program?
IB programs are not as well-known as other traditional programs, such as Advanced Placement (AP). Also, while IB programs aim to create a well-rounded education; some parents think that the IB program does not necessarily provide education beyond a child’s current grade levels.
IB program does not come without further disadvantages. We will discuss the cons of the IB program to help you decide if the IB program is worth pursuing.
IB cons include the following:
- IB diploma requirements might be perceived as a lot more work than traditional high school classes; the upside to this is that there is intentionality behind this design to reach a globalized and well-rounded form of education.
- There are no standardized exams; you will likely be assessed through writing assignments, essays, research papers, and other projects that convey your critical thinking rather your best guesses on multiple choice exams.
- There are costs to registration and examinations. Specifically, registration to IB programs is around $160. Additional fees are required to take the IB assessment tests ranging from $110 to $170, depending on the number of assessments you take for each subject group.
- IB diploma requirements are much more time-consuming. This ties back to our note on how IB programs place more emphasis on writing assignments, creativity, critical thinking, and community action.
- The IB diploma has expectations of skills that take time to cultivate! If you don’t want to waste time on something as thoughtful as these requirements expect, then maybe this is not the right program for you.
- IB classes do not get the same weight on your GPA as AP courses; this is because IB programs are not the norm across schools, even though it is a globally recognized diploma.
- The biggest con, in our opinion, relates to the fact that not all colleges award college credit for passing IB exams. Sometimes students will need to take both IB and AP exams to assure their college course waivers.
- Similar to our note above, IB programs are contingent on an institution’s policy. You’ll need to commit time to check in with your schools to better understand their policies on IB programs. You’ll also need to spend more time making sure your college(s) of choice will accept IB diplomas as college credit.
- IB programs are not offered everywhere, making this a rare instance in some cases. However, this will likely make you stand out more in your college applications
- IB programs have much less flexibility than other programs. The number of subjects and options for online access vary by school. Since the IB program is already very uncommon; it makes these alternate options much less accessible to you.
Do Colleges View IB More Favorably than AP for Admissions?
Colleges give IB and AP coursework equal weight. That is, if a student has completed five IB courses, they are viewed as having the same performance as a student who has completed five AP courses.
Now, the main distinction in this case is that only some colleges take IB examinations as college credits. This will vary by each institution’s policy. AP exams with a passing grade, on the other hand, are accepted as college credit across the country.
Generally speaking, colleges just want to see that you have what it takes to apply yourself and put in the hard work for advanced courses. Both AP and IB demonstrate the skills you’ve worked hard to cultivate, your learning capacities, and what you can potentially bring to their college. The fact that you are willing to challenge yourself is what is viewed favorably from college admissions.
Does IB Develop Writing Skills More Than Other Programs like AP?
One of the primary IB diploma benefits includes the opportunity to strengthen your writing skills. Writing is essentially one of the core components to the IB curriculum. There is no component written into the curriculum of AP programs that offer this same opportunity.
Given this, we certainly believe that IB programs can develop your writing skills much more than traditional AP programs!
Remember that AP programs place more emphasis on standardized exams rather than critical thinking skills. Much of the IB curriculum place heavy emphases on writing projects; IB diploma requirements include a 4,000-word essay, extending on what the student has already learned in the program thus far.
Many former students have shared how the writing projects from their IB programs strengthened their writing skills and prepared them for more applications of critical thinking and writing in college. The IB diploma requires an extended essay, a college style research paper, and, at times, students even blog about their extracurricular activities.
Overall, writing and knowing how to communicate your self-awareness with what you’re learning is very important to the developmental training of IB students.
Why Would a Student Take AP Classes Over IB Classes?
Now, we are going to focus on some factors that might encourage a student to take AP classes over IB classes. It’s important to remember that this decision will ultimately depend on every individual’s preference.
AP programs have more flexibility. If families need more flexibility, students can usually take AP classes offered online. Whereas, online courses for the IB program are not always available and do not always count for the IB diploma requirements.
There is more accessibility to AP programs across the U.S. It might be more difficult to find schools that offer IB programs. If a student does not have access to these special opportunities, then it is likely that they will take the route that is most accessible to them.
Lack of awareness
Lack of awareness may also be another reason why a student would take AP over IB classes. We’ve mentioned how IB programs are not as popular, not as common—it might be the case that someone would just take AP without actually knowing that there was another option.
As mentioned earlier, AP classes cost less than the IB diploma. Some students may not have the resources to support their completion of all IB diploma requirements and may instead take AP classes to attain a similar level of college preparation. However, we do not want to point out that there are scholarship opportunities available to you for IB diploma registration and exam fees.
Just remember to check in with your school first to see what opportunities are available!
Writing is hard
It might be the case that a student does not like writing and/or writing does not interest them. AP exams are typically multiple-choice response formats with content-specific assessments. Perhaps, someone doesn’t necessarily like the drastic change of cohesive learning goals replacing standardized examinations, so they choose AP over IB.
Similarly, perhaps a student does not necessarily want to do the amount of work that is needed for the IB diploma. This is especially true when you can just receive the same college course waiver through AP courses. The true distinction lies in the type of curriculum you want to prepare yourself for college and to meet your professional goals.
Doesn’t fit with schedule and commitment
When deciding on AP vs IB, it’s important to consider the time commitment and scheduling. For instance, since not all schools offer IB programs, you might find yourself commuting from school to school to complete the IB diploma requirements. This can be straining on you as a high school student.
In this case, a student will likely choose AP over IB for the mere convenience of having it available to them in the same school they already attend.
AP vs. IB difficulty
At this point, we have discussed the advantages and disadvantages of IB programs. One of the disadvantages included the time, commitment, and learning approach required for the IB diploma.
Given this distinction from AP, we are now going to discuss AP vs IB difficulty.
If you ask former students which one they thought was difficult; you’ll find that responses will vary. This will ultimately depend on your learning style, the amount of time you have available to commit to the IB diploma requirements, and your career goals.
Some students may find writing to be a very difficult process, rating the IB program as more difficult than AP. Other students may have really enjoyed the independence and cultivation of their creativity in the IB curriculum, rating the AP as difficult to sit through because of its lack of inspiration.
The best answer we can give for AP vs IB level of difficulty is: it varies. It’s best to really understand what works best for your learning and what your goals are in taking advanced coursework.
Why Would a Student Take IB Classes over AP?
The reasons why some students choose to take IB classes over AP varies by values, career goals, and personal/professional interests.
Writing is important
It might be the case that you value writing and you want to make sure you cultivate this school before proceeding to college. A student might recognize that writing is typically not a requirement in many schools or programs, making this a highly underutilized skill that might not get cultivated in a traditional class. Yet, writing in college and in other advanced coursework requires significant amount of writing and critical assessments.
In knowing this, a student might decide that this is why to choose IB programs over AP.
Other students might also share the same values of IB programs, prioritizing the globalized and inclusive approach to education. Former students have shared that while they may not apply or recall much of the course materials from the IB subject groups; they have integrated the education and skills attained from this education into their personal attributes and identity.
Another reason why a student would choose IB over AP is due to their interest in attending a school outside of the U.S. We mentioned earlier that this is one of the advantages to the IB diploma. Students who complete the IB diploma will be receiving a globally recognized accolade that will make your entry process into an internationally based school much easier than others.
Students might also consider their learning styles when deciding to choose IB programs. Perhaps, you recognize that you are a considerably independent student who can schedule their own study times and are self-driven to complete your work. You might also have the ability to push yourself to do challenging coursework.
If this sounds like you, then the IB program might be a great fit to attain rigorous education with a longer-term commitment.
Test it out!
One important note to remember is that you can actually enroll to take some IB courses without fully completing the IB diploma requirements. If you want to become more familiar with these courses, you may want to consider this option to test the waters.
Wrapping Things Up: Is IB Worth It?
Why choose IB programs? IB programs will prepare you for advanced courses in college and with other applied skills critical for professional development! The main thing to remember is that choosing IB programs over AP will be based on your personal and professional career goals.
If you are interested in cultivating your writing skills and in extending your understanding of cultures outside of your own through a critical lens—then you might actually enjoy the IB diploma requirements!
At this point, you’ve learned about the advantages and disadvantages of the IB program with our brief list of pros and cons; along with some common criticisms of IB programs vs AP programs. Make sure to apply this information when deciding to choose IB programs to reach your academic goals.