Why IB? Why IB Diploma?

Clare Ravizza , Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

Since middle school I have known that I was going to go for the IB Diploma. My dad had told me about it, and I decided. I planned all my high school classes from freshman year to best accommodate my IB classes in my junior and senior years.

But that is certainly not the case for everyone. Most freshmen have heard the term “International Baccalaureate” thrown around but don’t really know what it is, or how it works. Plenty of sophomores aren’t sure which classes they’ll sign up for next semester. One of my best friends, who is now happily full IB, didn’t really know what it was until she started asking around and shadowed an IB class.

So for those who are considering the IB Diploma, or even just curious about it, here are some lessons I’ve learned from my IB Diploma journey so far.

It’s challenging. As a student, I’ve always had classes that were easy for me and others that were more difficult. The ones that posed the most difficulty for me were classes that asked me to memorize and repeat back onto the page. I found the work dull and unchallenging. IB is not like that. My IB classes have asked me to absorb information, think critically about it, analyze it from different perspectives, and draw and argue my own conclusions. I’ve learned how to look close and how to understand the big picture. The classes are demanding, and often much of your success is determined by how committed you are to the work. In IB, worksheets and busywork are a thing of the past. Your learning depends on your participation and engagement with the material pretty much independently, then your grade depends on how effectively you can show that learning. And that can sometimes be really, really hard. Teachers expect a lot of us, and so does IB. It’s certainly not for the faint of heart.

It’s not impossible. One of the things that I heard while I was deciding to go full was that I would have “no life.” Most people told me “good luck,” as if it was some impossible feat to take these classes. And while that’s true that these are the most difficult classes I’ve ever taken, the work is (for the most part) manageable. At times, the stress and workload has absolutely felt overwhelming, but I’ve always managed to survive and even thrive. I can still hang out with my friends, dedicate (arguably too much) time to extracurriculars, and sleep every now and again.

It’s totally worth it.  I asked my fellow Diploma candidates from the class of 2018, and although it can be challenging, not a single one of them regrets trying. We are grateful for the classes, for the experiences we’ve had, for the learning we’ve gone through, even if we don’t get the Diploma in the end. But maybe ask us again this next May…