A Daunting Decision: To IB or Not to IB?

Maureen Schick, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

It’s that time of year again when sophomores face the daunting task of choosing classes for arguably the most important year of their high school careers: junior year.  Among many of the different class choices is the option to pursue an International Baccalaureate diploma, which takes two years to complete.

According to the Notre Dame Academy Educational Guide, the International Baccalaureate Program, more commonly referred to as IB, “is a comprehensive and challenging pre-university course that demands the best from both motivated students and teachers.”

Sounds scary, right? Well, although there may be a lot of complaining around finals, most students agree that choosing to pursue an IB diploma, or even just a few IB classes, was one of the best decisions they ever made.

Although not everyone decides to take the full IB diploma program, many students have chosen to take at least one class. Mr. Schultz, the IB Department Coordinator, explains that there are at least “154 juniors and seniors taking at least one IB class.”

This seems to be a bit more manageable, and the students are able to choose the IB class that they are interested or excel in rather than having to take them all.

Andrea Ball, a junior at NDA, is among those happy with IB and says that she has “grown a lot more curious” since enrolling in the full IB diploma program.

“I no longer just accept facts. I search for more, and I have become a lot more open to different methods and ways of thinking,” she explained.

This is one of the biggest differences between regular or honors classes and IB classes; IB requires a lot more independent learning, and the student has to be motivated to do so.

Mrs. Jordan Vandehey, an IB math teacher at NDA, echoes the idea that IB students are “a lot more motivated to do self-discovery learning.”

Although IB prepares you extremely well for college classes, it is not the program for everyone. Some students like the extra guidance and less stress from an honors or regular class.

Olivia Campbell, a junior, explains that she chose honors classes over IB classes because “I wanted to take challenging classes, but not be overly stressed while being in sports.”

This is a big problem for many students who are involved in after-school activities and sports. IB teachers do not give a lot of “busy work,” but you have to study a little bit every night in order to understand the material.

Emily Ness, a junior taking IB English, explains that “IB’s tough. It builds character and really makes you think. That’s the hardest part for me because my formal education thus far has only taught me how to get an A.”

The IB curriculum is designed to make students think critically, and its intent is preparation for college.

But preparation for college is exactly why other students decided to go the college credit route.  The St. Norbert College Credit class, an option for seniors who can test into the class, is another way to get English credit with many colleges.

Junior Keeli Otto, who admits she “didn’t really want to do the oral examinations required by IB,” said the colleges she’s considering would give her credit for the SNC college credit class.  Consequently, she is taking Junior Honors English this year and plans to take the college credit English class next year.

According to Mr. Schultz, the IB diploma program fits students who “want to be challenged academically, who  have an open mind about learning in new ways, who have a good work ethic, and who want a global perspective in their classes.”

NDA students on the brink of registration need to be researching their options for classes.  Teachers and other students are invaluable sources of information and recommendation.

To IB or not to IB?  Research the options available and think how you learn best before making a decision.