Mira Loma High School Parents

Help your child. Volunteer

What do you get when you admit an IB student?

This article is from http://www.wis.edu/news/detail.asp?pageaction=ViewSinglePublic&LinkID=246&ModuleID=115.  It captures a recent presentation to college officials.


Note to Colleges: What you get when you admit an IB student

Posted: 11/2/05

I think, therefore IB. That's a sort of flip shorthand for what colleges get when they admit an IB student – they get a thinker!

University counseling officers Sam Smith and Pam Joos, fresh from professional meetings around the world, participated recently in a panel on "What you get when you admit an IB student” at the National Association of College Admissions Counselors (NACAC) conference. They felt that many colleges understand the rigor of the IB, but don’t see the whole picture of an IB student. So they set out to paint that picture by illustrating a day in the life of a WIS student – Zane Smith, Grade 12, who is preparing for a bilingual (French) IB Diploma this year.

Zane’s day is useful in illustrating what Smith and Joos believe is true of IB students. “Rather than focusing on memorization of facts,” Smith says, “the IB forces a student to think around a subject, to see it from many angles and synthesize information in order to develop an informed opinion.”

“A student cannot succeed in the IB examinations without being able to do this,” Smith adds.

So what is a typical day for Zane?

In addition to his diploma program, which includes English, Economics, and History Higher Level, Math, French, and Biology Standard Level, Theory of Knowledge and the dreaded Extended Essay, Zane is editor of the student newspaper International Dateline, and runs for the cross country team. Phew! Here’s what he was thinking about on one particular day this fall:

· English: Discussed Othello – why does Shakespeare switch from verse to prose? How does he change portrayal of Othello using language?

· History: Pop quiz, then discussion of Jim Crow laws – how do the powerful get the rest of us to think against our own best interests?

· Biology: Discussed gene mutation – if gene mutation doesn’t result in miscarriage, what are its effects on the individual?

· Lunch: Two meetings, Jewish Culture Club, then a meeting on fundraising for disaster relief – can we get the DC gaming board to authorize a poker game?

· Study hall: Read about Reconstruction after the Civil War. Got into a discussion with another student re: numbers of African Americans voting today vs. 1870. By 2015, the other student says, criminal records will keep one-third of African Americans from voting, leaving fewer than could vote in 1870. Discussed equality as a concept versus reality.

· French: Read Tintin as comic relief after Moliere. Looked at sterotypes – homework is to look at reasoning that racism can be attributed to the social climate of the time.

· Math: Calculus – what else is there to say?

What did other people at the NACAC meeting have to say about the IB?

· Mary Lou Bates, dean of admissions and financial aid at Skidmore College called IB scores a “better predictor of college success” than SAT scores

· Edward Gillis, director of admissions, University of Miami, says statistics are starting to show that IB students perform better through the college years than students from other systems

Joos and Smith got good reviews for their presentation. One participant said “I learned more about the IB in one hour than I had learned in several years.” Says Smith, “On our final evening at the conference, an admissions officer came up to thank me for helping him understand more fully what an IB student does. He said he had met many IB students and was always impressed by their level of understanding and ability to talk on a wide range of issues. Now he could see why.”

Adds Smith, speaking of his own experience as a mathematics teacher here, “Everyone who works with IB students comes away impressed.”

Back to top

Getting ahead of the line

Many universities will grant unit credits to IB Diploma students.  For example, as of 2006, the University of California system will grant 30 unit credits and the University of Southern California will grant 20 unit credits for students earning the IB Diploma with a score of  at least 30.  In addition, depending on the major some will grant subject credit.  For some, this may mean 3 years of  college for an undergraduate degree.

Unit credits will put the student ahead of the line when it comes time to registrater for classes, basically, registering as a Sophomore.  Registering before your classmates allows you to create your ideal schedule.  Let's say, start classes at 10:00am and ending 3:00pm.  Otherwise, you most likely you will have one class at 8:00am, 2:00pm and 6:00pm.  You get the idea.

Subject credits will allow you to skip a course.  Typically, subject credits will benefit Liberal Arts majors.  Engineering majors have a very demanding curriculum to follow and generally will not get much in terms of subject credits. Usually, the credits will count towards general electives.

Return to Top

New Teen Taunt: You Call Those Advanced Classes?


Competing Programs Stir Student Rivalries

By Ian Shapira

Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 25, 2007; Page A01



Alyssa Smith, 17, was taking Advanced Placement classes at Woodbridge Senior High School in Prince William County. Her boyfriend was in the International Baccalaureate program at Stonewall Jackson High School near Manassas.

 "I got an opportunity to look at his homework . . . and his work sheets were pretty simple," said Smith, now a senior. "We'd always have arguments over who was more exhausted, and I would always win. My parents made fun of IB. They didn't think it was a quality program, either."

 Smith and her boyfriend have broken up now.

 Fierce but subtle rivalries are playing out among the teenage academic elite in the Washington area as high schools expand college-level courses. Like Ivy Leaguers who debate ad nauseam whether Harvard, Yale or Princeton reigns supreme, many high schoolers enjoy engaging in a game of one-upmanship over their brand-name curricula.

 Their tit for tats might appear trifling, but students say the debates help them answer fundamental questions about their high-achieving existence: Whose life is most out of control? Which program is more impressive to colleges? Which provides the best education? Who suffers the heaviest workload?

 There might be no objective way to settle such questions. Often, students base their opinions about rival programs on little more than perceptions or generalizations that may or may not be true.

 AP students believe that their program has the most credibility because it is administered by the New York-based College Board, which oversees the SAT. AP is used in 16,000 schools nationwide. AP students say that the IB program allows for too many open-ended questions on exams and that many IB assignments amount to busywork.

 IB partisans have plenty to say in defense of the Geneva-based program. They contend that their classes are more integrated and worldly and involve much more homework than AP's. They cite the fact that they have to take at least six IB courses -- three of them are two years long -- and that one of them must be a foreign language class. (There is no minimum requirement for the number of courses and tests for AP students.) What's more, IB diploma students have to write a 4,000-word mini-thesis. And they have to perform multiple hours of community service.

 In addition, a fast-growing, elite program is making its way to Washington area schools. The British-based University of Cambridge international program, which started to take root in the United States in the 1990s, is available in about 60 U.S. schools, including two each in the Prince William and Montgomery county systems. Cambridge fans say the program is the most challenging because it encourages students to spend more time analyzing material than memorizing facts. For instance, students know in advance what books will be asked about on the end-of-year exams, which encourages them to worry less about remembering long lists of characters and more about dissecting narratives.

 Danielle MacGregor, a Prince William senior, placed second in the world on a University of Cambridge International Examination, beating out 11,000 students from more than 90 countries.

 "Some people do think that Cambridge is tougher and more strenuous, and a lot of times you'll hear it from the teachers," said MacGregor, 17, a senior at Brentsville District High School. "You know, I wish Cambridge was more well-known . . . but maybe that makes us more elite."

 Most school officials tiptoe around the topic, saying that each program is equally challenging and that their differences appeal to different types of learners.

 But Alexander Carter, the Brentsville principal, has his mind made up. "I believe Cambridge is the most rigorous academic program that exists," Carter said. "The AP program is, 'Show what you know.' The Cambridge program is, 'Show us what you can do with what you know.' "

 Experts say the debate says more about students than the programs.

 "It's splitting hairs. It's like, can you honestly say that Georgetown Day is better or worse than Sidwell Friends?" said Denise Pope, a lecturer at Stanford University's School of Education and author of a book about stressed-out teenagers. "A lot of this is a competition over who can suffer the most. The person who can withstand the most stress and lives to tell about it is the winner."

 But people still try to find ways to measure which is best. In presentations to parents considering the Cambridge program at his school, Carter hands out the findings of a recent survey showing that at a large state university in Florida, the average first-year GPA of Cambridge students was 3.46, compared with 3.12 and 3.10 for students who took AP and IB courses in high school, respectively.

 No exhaustive study has been conducted to determine which program is best -- and especially what "best" would mean, according to officials in the programs. Some high schools offer one program, and others offer a choice.

 AP advocates contend that their program has the upper hand because its tests are widely recognized among U.S. universities.

 At Georgetown University, freshmen can get credit if they score a 4 or 5 on an AP exam after a one-year course. But IB students can get credit there for doing well on their IB exams only after taking two-year IB courses.

 "Most people in my chair will say that IB is wonderful. I am not one of those," said Charles Deacon, Georgetown's dean of undergraduate admissions. "The AP program has been in effect for a very long time. It's got a very rigorous curriculum design, and it covers the subject matter we want to see, and it's scored on a rigorous basis, whereas in IB, it's not quite as rigorous."

 What about Cambridge? Deacon wants to see more Georgetown applicants who have participated in the program before he puts it on par with AP or IB. "A lot of the schools that are doing it, we never get applications from. When it gets to the Winston Churchills or Thomas Jeffersons, then you know you've got something for you," Deacon said, referring to two of the region's most prestigious public high schools.

 Lauren Sclater, 17, of Prince William has experience with two programs. After spending her first two years at a high school with an IB program -- Gar-Field Senior High in Woodbridge -- she transferred to an AP school this year as a junior: Osbourn Park High, near Manassas. She switched after learning that one of her top college choices might not offer as much credit for IB as it does for AP.

 To friends who ask her to compare the two, Sclater replies that IB is harder because "the exam questions are wordier" and "they play tricks on you."

 "I took pride that I was good enough to be in the IB program. Anybody can be in AP," she said, adding that her clique of friends would often feign despair over how much work they were saddled with.

 "I would be like, 'So I have this, this and this to do tonight,' and their jaws would drop. And I would just say back, 'Eh, I'll get through it,' sort of playing it off and pretending like it was nothing," Sclater said of her IB days. "But I kind of knew in the back of my mind, 'Oh, my goodness, I have a lot of stuff to do.' "

 For MacGregor, the world's No. 2 on the Cambridge English language test, her program has paid off. She has been accepted to the University of Virginia, and she won a prize for her performance on the test: a gift certificate worth more than $100 for Amazon.com.

 Does IB or AP offer the same for its top students? That would be a big no.

Return to top