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 Post subject: International Baccalaureate programs?
PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2013 10:01 am 
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Does anyone have experience with International Baccalaureate programs? We're choosing Shae's high school and have narrowed it down to one offering the IB program and one that is associated with CIE (offered through University of Cambridge International Examinations). Just looking for some real life experiences. I was accepted into IB as a kid, then did some major rebellion and transferred to the easy school and totally regret it.

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 Post subject: Re: International Baccalaureate programs?
PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2013 10:18 am 
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i did full IB! i really liked it (mostly) but i was a weird kid.


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 Post subject: Re: International Baccalaureate programs?
PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2013 10:30 am 
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My school didn't offer anything except AP sometime in my 10th grade or maybe even 11th grade year so I have no personal experience. A while back, I read there was some friction regarding IB and I couldn't remember what it was but I found a Washington Post article from a few years ago that said many schools in the DC area weren't accepting IB courses as college credit. Although it really depends on what the goal is, if it is to get more challenging courses to be able to test out of classes (vs getting college credit), then it may be reasonable to go into an IB program.

If it is to get college credit, then I'd probably compare the acceptance of college credit by both types of programs at your local universities.

Again, this article is somewhat old and I don't know if it is still valid but something to think about. It also indicates that AP tests did earn college credit even though it seemed the IB courses were indeed harder.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/co ... 01800.html

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 Post subject: Re: International Baccalaureate programs?
PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2013 2:15 pm 
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I went to a school with the IB program for the first two years and I was supposed to be in it and then I moved so I wasn't. Tons of kids dropped out because it was too much, and the kids who stuck it out either had no social life or did a lot of adderall/other drugs to get all their shiitake done. Ok that's probably a generalization and not that helpful but it was definitely a thing.

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 Post subject: Re: International Baccalaureate programs?
PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2013 2:51 pm 
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Once I found out that IB existed, I totally regretted not being in an area which offered it.
Curious to hear what the RL experiences were/are.

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 Post subject: Re: International Baccalaureate programs?
PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2013 3:54 pm 
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I did the first year of the diploma programme, but then transferred to the generic state high school certificate in the second year. I wasn't struggling or stressed out by having to do an extra subject or anything, but I just wasn't getting a lot from it. Besides, there were a lot of cool subjects at my school (like Classics) that I wanted to do, but that weren't available as part of the IB. Other than that, I don't remember it being super different to the normal high school certificate. But I do recall that I hated TOK, and it hadn't helped me at all when I went to uni and did real topics in ethics and stuff. But I guess like anything else, that depends on the quality of your teachers.

My school had only just recently introduced the IB, so they were pushing it on people really hard and I felt like they oversold the whole experience/benefits (ie. 'if you ever want to study outside of Australia you HAVE TO DO THE IB'). But then again, I was always a pretty fortunate kid in that I knew exactly what I wanted to do, and could see that the IB programme wasn't going to be significant in helping me to get there. I never regretted either doing the first year of the IB or withdrawing from the programme, and I was pretty glad to have the option.

We also had the IB Middle Years Programme as an elective, which I did. My year was the first that it was available. I don't remember it being at all different to normal school except that we had to do the personal project- which was easy. I'd actually almost completely forgotten that I did it until now. It was clearly a huge influence on my life.

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 Post subject: Re: International Baccalaureate programs?
PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2013 4:00 pm 
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I did IB in high school and though at the time I thought it was worth it, looking back I feel like it was a waste of my time. I did get the IB diploma because it was advertised as "beyond AP" so I thought it would be more academically rigorous. I was also sold the line that colleges would count some of the IB courses as college credit and that the IB diploma would help to distinguish me from other students on college applications.

Most of my classes were labeled AP/IB, because the curriculum was combined into one class. So I know for English AP/IB class we had to read some extra "world literature" and do some written projects but they were basically just made into homework assignments for the class. We had a few other extra projects, like a calculus project, a giant research report on any topic of your choice (done junior/senior year under supervision of a faculty advisor), and I think a few extra English papers. There were also two extra classes I had to take -- one was called Theory of Knowledge, which was kind of like philosophy and the other was like World Politics (or something) which we took senior year instead of the standard US Government class. I don't really think I got much out of TOK; it was a lot of stuff like what is the "nature of knowledge" which is such a nebulous topic that much of the class was hand wavy discussions of philosophy. The Politics course was interesting because we read a lot of college texts regarding US relations with other countries in the 80s-90s, but I do feel like I missed out a lot from never taking a Government course. There was also some other requirement to do community service and be otherwise engaged in the community. I already had done community service because I knew colleges looked for that in applications. I think you also had to show you were physically active (I may have used my cross country PE class to satisfy this requirement) and and creative (like do some kind of creative project outside of school).

To get the diploma, you have to take these big written exams that are pretty much like the AP exams you take in May except they are way way way easier (I think you had to take 5 -- a few had to be really in depth and a few were more cursory. You chose from history, sciences, math, foreign language). They still cost $80/pop though. So that is something to consider, because it can be a huge financial burden. My junior and senior years I took about 5-6 tests/year which was close to $500 and my school had only a few scholarships available.

In the end, my university (University of California) gave me college credits for the AP classes I took and NO credits from any of the IB stuff. For the most part that didn't matter because I had done both AP and IB science, math, english, spanish, etc. but if I had somehow only managed to do IB I would have been SOL. I'm not even sure if it helped me during admissions process. I had a lot of other extra curricular stuff that probably helped more. I felt like I learned a lot more and was challenged a lot more by the AP stuff. The AP exams were much harder, so we were drilled in class to be able to perform well on those; consequently, IB was very easy. My high school made IB seem like an exclusive club -- there were only 30 of us and the school kissed our butts and let us graduate in different colored robes and be at the front of the graduation procession and we got our own yearbook page. However, in the end I don't feel like I got very much out of it. It could have just been my school, and things might have changed in the past 10 years that I was in it. But based on my experiences, if I had a kid right now I wouldn't be super enthused about IB. I would look more into the AP courses offered and what the average score on the AP exams is (like do most people get 2's & 3's or do most kids get 4's & 5's). I had heard from some friends that went to college abroad that IB was taken more seriously in other countries (maybe they got credits?) but US universities were pretty meh about the whole thing. Ideally it's supposed to make you into a more well rounded student by taking these extra classes and requiring projects that involve you in the community, make you do independent research, etc. (like mini-college?) but the execution isn't that great.

I hope that helps! I hope I wasn't too much of a negative nancy about the whole thing! I'm sure that some students get a lot out of it. It reminded me a lot of all the gen ed stuff you do in American colleges but at a lower level. I wonder if it's designed in this way because European unis don't have the gen ed requirements that US unis do, so this is a way to expose European students to that type of curriculum?

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 Post subject: Re: International Baccalaureate programs?
PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2013 4:35 pm 
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I guess I should point out that universities here don't really do the whole 'credit' thing. So subsequently the IB was marketed to us as something that was super valid elsewhere (probably particularly in the US) and that foreign universities would regard an IB diploma much more highly than a generic Australian high school certificate. But I never heard anything about the IB in a university context- not even at an international university network conference I attended in Japan.

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 Post subject: Re: International Baccalaureate programs?
PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2013 7:51 pm 
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I know one girl who dropped out of her IB program because she got an ulcer. She was so stressed out from the workload. A friend says that if they had it to do over, they would not have chosen it for their child because he missed out on so much of the fun stuff while he was working on the IB. At least down here, it's a ton of writing.
My friend's child got a fancy seal on his HS diploma, a bit more Bright Futures money, and a sash to wear at graduation. A librarian friend would not let her son do it because she said "college is hard enough." She wanted him to be able to enjoy being a kid for a bit longer. He's an engineer now with a masters so ...

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 Post subject: Re: International Baccalaureate programs?
PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2013 8:39 pm 
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Thanks guys! That all really helped. You are all confirming what we thought already. Yes, it's more challenging but probably not worth it in the long run. The other school has a good program too and the best soccer team in the county (which is a huge deal for Shae) so it's probably what we'll end up doing. A nice, happy medium.

Shae ruled out other schools based on their presentations at his school, "they didn't even mention academics OR soccer" and "that school has dead deer heads in the office!" (But in the end I agree with him for actual reasons)

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 Post subject: Re: International Baccalaureate programs?
PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2013 8:43 pm 
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I graduated with an IB diploma, and I'm really happy I did. It is very time-consuming, but I had enough time for my main extracurricular activity (I was a hardcore band devotee and never had issues getting my work done and still attending rehearsals and competitions and practicing my instrument) and to hang with friends on the weekends. I started a four-university with two years of coursework under my belt, and having completed my IB research paper I didn't blink an eye at length requirements for upper-level writing assignments. I also learned how to research and write well in the program, which, as someone who teaches literature and writing courses at a university, are pretty rare skills to find among undergraduates. A lot of the classes I took aren't relevant to my career, of course (I can't even begin to estimate the hours I spent studying calculus, for instance), but they have been useful! When I took my GRE in preparation for applying to grad school I didn't have to study any math because I had learned everything in the study guide in high school! Oh-- and my language learning experience in IB was excellent. It was really intensive, and I graduated with high proficiency. I work in a completely different language now and only wish it had've been offered in my program. These days the language options at most schools are way more diverse!

ETA: I didn't have to pay for any of my IB exams. Many schools cover them for their students.


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 Post subject: Re: International Baccalaureate programs?
PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2013 8:54 pm 
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You can also do regular HS, and look into post secondary options for junior/senior year. I went to community college my last year of HS (but still did HS extra curriculars, etc, left after second period to drive to the school).

The plusses- no expensive test- you just jump straight to college credits! also, you don't have to pay the tuition to the college, it comes from your HS or whatever.

The minus- unless you take your credits where you plan to go for undergrad, the credits are just transfer credits, which is good if you take a challenging class (on your final transcript at graduation of undergrad its just listed as pass/fail) and get a "c", but not so good if you want to graduate with honors for general education- I had a high enough GPA but didn't have enough general education credits to actually get that.

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 Post subject: Re: International Baccalaureate programs?
PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2013 1:48 am 
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yeah, here in canadaland i got college credit and didn't have to pay for the tests- so that probably makes a difference!


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 Post subject: Re: International Baccalaureate programs?
PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2013 8:56 am 
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I'm late to this conversation, but my son is a HS junior in a full IB program, and he absolutely loves it. He does have a lot of work, and he works very hard, but he's also had major roles in the past few school plays, and has kept up with his other extracurriculars (art and classics). Academic success has always been big currency for him (he's in his 5th year of Latin, and is all pumped about translating the Aeneid; that's my boy), I think it's been helpful that his two best friends are also doing it, because he has peers in the same boat.

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 Post subject: Re: International Baccalaureate programs?
PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2013 9:28 am 
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I did IB up through Grade 11 but then transferred to the regular stream for grade 12, which I liked because I had an easy-peasy grade 12 year, had time to work hard and study while keeping all my extra-curriculars, and got much better grades because of it. That said, where I live the colleges/universities don't put any weight on high-school grades when you apply into undergrad programs so long as you've passed to obtain the appropriate credits (Math, sciences, English, etc.).

I didn't realize at the time how much I would have appreciated that credit and written english requirement later when I did my Bachelor's degree. I was already doing enough after-school volunteering/activities to fulfill my CAS components, and I suppose I could have pulled-off the essay. Kinda wish I had stuck with IB.

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 Post subject: Re: International Baccalaureate programs?
PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2013 10:37 am 
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lycophyte wrote:
You can also do regular HS, and look into post secondary options for junior/senior year. I went to community college my last year of HS (but still did HS extra curriculars, etc, left after second period to drive to the school).

The plusses- no expensive test- you just jump straight to college credits! also, you don't have to pay the tuition to the college, it comes from your HS or whatever.

The minus- unless you take your credits where you plan to go for undergrad, the credits are just transfer credits, which is good if you take a challenging class (on your final transcript at graduation of undergrad its just listed as pass/fail) and get a "c", but not so good if you want to graduate with honors for general education- I had a high enough GPA but didn't have enough general education credits to actually get that.

I agree! Colleges are making classes available more readily (via weekend offerings, extension sites, classes in the HS), or you could enroll him non-matriculated into an online class that he's interested in if his regular classes aren't rigorous enough.

Transfer policies vary widely from school to school, and even academic program to academic program, so I wouldn't make that a big deciding factor either way.

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 Post subject: Re: International Baccalaureate programs?
PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2013 11:43 am 
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My partner did this program in the state of FL and if you'd like to email with him I bet he'd be happy to send you some insights. We talked about it last night, randomly, and he said he had a good experience and did get a lot of college credits (for in state tuition).

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 Post subject: Re: International Baccalaureate programs?
PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2013 2:00 pm 
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One thing to remember is that not every program is appropriate for every kid. You have to take personality and learning style into account. Toby goes to a fundamental middle school with rules that would make me insane. However, it's exactly the way he likes the world, all lined up like an algebra equation.

IB would not work for him, right now, because of the amount of writing that is involved. But the technology program that is super heavy on math would not work for a lot of kids either.

The local college offers a program for 10-12th graders. You graduate with an AA and your high school diploma. However, you give up things like band so I am not so sure that is what we want.

My sister graduated with 2 years of college credit and still took 4 years to get her BA so there are no guarantees.

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 Post subject: Re: International Baccalaureate programs?
PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2013 2:20 pm 
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I really appreciate everyone's input! I'm relaying a lot of this to my husband and Shae. We have meetings at all of the upcoming schools (we're going to 3 out of 6 of them) in the next week or two, and will take it from there. I'll probably have more detailed questions after that!

Vantine: That's the reason we are so worried about deciding this. His brain is really divided between school and soccer. The amount of time and effort he puts into soccer makes it feel like IB would be overload, but he wants us to consider it.

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 Post subject: Re: International Baccalaureate programs?
PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2013 6:36 pm 
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I did the full IB program and loved it! I was also training as a competitive gymnast up to 16 hours a week in addition to it. It made me be super organized and I think my ability to not procrastinate is still with me today (I've been in University for almost 7 years now). I think it's important to see what courses the school is offering - I went to a large school so we had all the options regarding which courses we wanted to take at higher level and what we wanted to take at standard level, while some other people I know basically had to take certain things at certain levels. My program also had close to 100 students, so it wasn't like we were this tiny group of nerds. It was actually really nice to be surrounded by people who loved learning and I think the quality of the teaching was much better because the teachers appreciated our desire to be there.

Was it stressful? Yes. Definitely. But, first year university was pretty easy for me because of the skills I had developed in IB (not the actual factual knowledge, but just how to study, how to approach a problem, etc...). My peers in university were expecting answers to be spoon-fed to them. I also didn't feel like the work was "busy" work and a waste of time.

boring story even more boring - I had a wonderful experience and wouldn't change it for the world. And it's possible to do school and soccer (as long as you consider going to school and going to soccer as your social time because the rest of the time will be spent studying!).


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 Post subject: Re: International Baccalaureate programs?
PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2013 6:43 pm 
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Kelly wrote:
I really appreciate everyone's input! I'm relaying a lot of this to my husband and Shae. We have meetings at all of the upcoming schools (we're going to 3 out of 6 of them) in the next week or two, and will take it from there. I'll probably have more detailed questions after that!

Vantine: That's the reason we are so worried about deciding this. His brain is really divided between school and soccer. The amount of time and effort he puts into soccer makes it feel like IB would be overload, but he wants us to consider it.

Kelly,
If you know anyone who went through the program, that would be super helpful, I think. When we checked out middle schools, I talked to people with kids a bit older who had been through the various schools. I also know some school librarians which is sort of cheating, I know.

Some people are really able to dive into the amount of work and thrive. However, there are good students who end up feeling overwhelmed.

Excuse me, I have to go be the homework police... :)

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 Post subject: Re: International Baccalaureate programs?
PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2013 6:48 pm 
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My view on college credit in high school: if the kid is motivated and wants it, I'd do dual enrollment community college instead. More rigor, real classes, none of the bullshiitake. Most AP classes are not at all college equivalent, and placing out with those credits is only useful for core courses that don't matter for your degree. Placing out of sciences with AP is usually a bad idea. I've tutored so many of those kids--they don't have the background to handle 2nd year courses, no matter how bright or how well they scored. I think the big issue is that the AP classes are still high school, and still have a bit of hand holding and spoon feeding, so they don't do a lot to help instill college level work habits or thinking patterns.

Even though AP is regulated by the College Board, AP courses still get watered down, just like everything else. From what I've observed, though they do a lot of labs, they also do a lot of test prep and test drilling. A lot of writing, but not really a lot of critical thinking.

But, these classes can really be a lot of work and a lot of pressure. I think a light or partial HS load and then 3-6 credits in a college is less stress, more beneficial, and looks as good or better on transcripts.

(I didn't mention IB because I'm not as familiar, but a few schools in my district do have IB, and it is generally considered to be way too much work. My personal bias is just against anything that doesn't leave time for other forms of enrichment, including academic enrichment.)

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 Post subject: Re: International Baccalaureate programs?
PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2013 6:58 pm 
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lavawitch wrote:
My view on college credit in high school: if the kid is motivated and wants it, I'd do dual enrollment community college instead. More rigor, real classes, none of the bullshiitake. Most AP classes are not at all college equivalent, and placing out with those credits is only useful for core courses that don't matter for your degree. Placing out of sciences with AP is usually a bad idea. I've tutored so many of those kids--they don't have the background to handle 2nd year courses, no matter how bright or how well they scored. I think the big issue is that the AP classes are still high school, and still have a bit of hand holding and spoon feeding, so they don't do a lot to help instill college level work habits or thinking patterns.

Even though AP is regulated by the College Board, AP courses still get watered down, just like everything else. From what I've observed, though they do a lot of labs, they also do a lot of test prep and test drilling. A lot of writing, but not really a lot of critical thinking.

But, these classes can really be a lot of work and a lot of pressure. I think a light or partial HS load and then 3-6 credits in a college is less stress, more beneficial, and looks as good or better on transcripts.

(I didn't mention IB because I'm not as familiar, but a few schools in my district do have IB, and it is generally considered to be way too much work. My personal bias is just against anything that doesn't leave time for other forms of enrichment, including academic enrichment.)


Thanks for the information on the sciences, Lavawitch. Part of the reason that we are considering a dual enrollment for the boy is that he could take astronomy classes at the local college.

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 Post subject: Re: International Baccalaureate programs?
PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2013 7:09 pm 
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Dual enrollment is awesome! I did it myself, though I skipped senior year entirely and did my English and government at the cc too. I really thrived away from all the bullshiitake of HS. My stress level went down to nothing.

I think that you will find that quite a few kids do this and therefore many of the professors are very sensitive to any additional needs that the younger students may have. It's really all win.

Also, socially, if there are concerns, cc have such an enormous cross section of students that the worry of a young teen getting tossed into an inappropriate social group can be minimized a bit, especially if the teen already runs with healthy peer groups.

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 Post subject: Re: International Baccalaureate programs?
PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2013 8:32 pm 
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One other thing to consider, is with Common Core Standards starting in the next year or two a lot of schools will be tweaking programs. Might be worth asking at info nights, schools might not have definitive answers at this point, but might have an idea of how much tweaking they need to do.


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