Second Thoughts about IB: Is the diploma worth the extra stress?


Art courtesy of Victor Alvarez

The International Baccalaureate program has been at CHS for over a decade by now, providing students with opportunities for more rigorous academic activity. In contrast to other similarly rigorous courses like AP classes, IB course curriculums are designed with a coordinated, globally-focused two-year long program in mind, although individual IB courses can be taken by themselves. This two year long diploma program has earned a reputation for its difficulty and toll it can take on students’ mental health. This has left many upcoming juniors questioning whether or not they should pursue the IB diploma. The only way to answer this question is to listen to what students who actually spent a year in IB have to say about the program.
Signing up for IB junior year is not a set-in-stone decision, as due to any number of reasons, it can be dropped going into senior year. Riley Swift was someone who made that decision. Despite having an overall positive attitude experience with his first year, Swift still had his reasons for choosing not to continue with the program.
“I think sometimes it’s a little bit much. They talk about preparing us for college, but sometimes I feel like they go a little bit overboard,” said Swift.
This sentiment is shared by many who have still chosen to go forward with getting their IB diploma their senior year. Anthony Rumboz Peres is one of these seniors who expressed similar opinions about IB’s workload.
“Junior year of IB, I know it can be stressful for people, it was stressful for people, it was stressful for me,” Rumbos Perez said.
Although for the class of 2022, the first year of IB may have been less stressful than usual due to CHS’ online schedule.
“A good amount of me being able to manage that IB work was because it was online. Not because of online itself, but because of the school’s decision to make online schedules shorter,” Rumboz-Perez said.
Although it may have been easier to manage, like every other class, IB class curriculums suffered as a result of distance learning. Swift had some issues that were endemic to distance learning with IB.
“I think because it’s a discussion based style of learning, so it’s harder online. You get put in breakout rooms and those are pretty awkward, it wasn’t at all like an in class discussion,” Swift said.
This is an important thing for anyone considering pursuing the full IB diploma. Their experience might be totally different from that of the class of 2022, who spent the large majority of their junior year online. Despite this there are some issues that are inherent to the IB program that will apply online or in person.
For anybody hoping to get their IB diploma, they will have to complete Theory of Knowledge, a class based upon the discussion and dissection of complicated questions. This may be appealing to some, but that is not always the case. Swift was one of these people who did not enjoy the course.
“I’m just not a big fan of TOK, which is a mandatory course. I think that was especially impacted by the online situation, but I just didn’t enjoy that class regardless.” Swift said.
Ultimately, there is not a definitive answer for whether or not the IB diploma is worth pursuing. It all depends on a student’s style of learning and what they want to do after college. It is academically rigorous and could possibly cause unnecessary stress, but the IB program does have a number of benefits. IB is great for discussion based learning and provides ample opportunities to study abroad, due to the international focus of the IB program. Ultimately though, the IB program shouldn’t be thought of as a necessity to get into a decent college, but as a potential pathway to success among many.