Scroll down to find the answers to these commonly held myths regarding IB participation.

  • IB students have no life other than school
  • IB students don’t get to take electives
  • Students are not able to study their specialty; for example, Art
  • There is too much homework in IB
  • There is too much stress in the IB Program
  • IB students give up many of their long-time friendships

IB students have no life other than school.

While academic achievement—and therefore studying—is a priority, IB students enjoy a very rich extracurricular high school experience. IB students successfully participate in ALL interscholastic sports, consistently show that they are school leaders in a variety of associations (such as Student Council, Honor Societies, etc.), and enjoy belonging to a host of school clubs and community activities.

Additionally, CAS promotes a very respectable level of non-academic ventures, and indications are that IB students enjoy a rather high percentage of leadership posts in the school and community-at-large.

IB students don’t get to take electives.

Pre-Bac 9 & 10 students choose a full-year elective each year. IB students in grade 11 choose a course of study that is both specific to their skills and interests and consistent with attaining the IB Diploma. Grade 12 IB students also pursue their interests in their individualized courses of study; in addition, a grade 12 student could have an additional one or two electives depending on how many IB exams are taken in junior year.

IB students also choose to take subjects as Standard Level or Higher Level, as well as choose a topic of interest or expertise in which to write their Extended Essay. All of this points to an impressive array of individualization, while still being in a “program”.

Students are not able to study their specialty; for example, Art.

Because IB is a program there are minimum requirements that must be met. For instance, all diploma candidates must demonstrate a level of proficiency in each of the 6 subject areas. However, this does not preclude someone from specializing in a subject area. Let’s look at the example of Art:

A pre-BAC student committed to Art would take a Visual Arts elective in grade 9 and grade 10 (at least 2 courses). The student would then pursue IB Visual Arts courses in grade 11 and grade 12. In addition, the student’s Extended Essay could be in the field of Visual Arts and many of the 150 CAS hours could be “art allocated” (museums, art galleries, art fundraisers, public relations for arts charities, etc.). The student can also take an additional Arts elective, such as Graphic Arts or Photography. The end result is:

  • 5 courses in the Arts
  • a 4,000-word piece of original research in the Arts (Extended Essay) supported by Arts’ mentors
  • CAS experiences in the Arts field

This impressive high-school concentration in the Arts can be outlined as a similar “curriculum profile” for students specifically skilled or interested in Literature, Math, Social Science, Experimental Science, Foreign Language, etc.

There is too much homework in IB.

Any IB or AP students should develop good time management skills in order to be successful in the program. While the amount of homework required in an IB course is no more than what is required in AP courses, the nature of the work products can differ due to the focus of a given course. Overall, students may find more writing assignments in IB courses, and required projects called Internal Assessments that follow IB policies.

There is too much stress in the IB Program.

This statement really speaks about “pressure” and its source. Because of the nature of studying 6 advanced studies courses simultaneously, it is critical that students understand that straight A’s every quarter won’t be probable. In fact, IB Coordinators everywhere talk of students & parents “flirting with a C”, which simply means that success and achievement in the program dictates “working through it” and not “conquering it” with perfect GPAs.

As soon as students & parents realize that grade evaluations in the IB Program are indicative of the highest, most rigorous standards in the world, and that maintaining a healthy outlook and an exceptional work ethic are more important than getting all A’s, the stress will dissipate.

It’s truly a different way of looking at achievement, and this adjustment can be tricky for some.

IB students give up many of their long-time friendships.

If a student joins the IB Program and his/her friends do not, then it follows that they will not see each other in a classroom setting. However, one of the great things about being in a large, comprehensive high school is the varied plethora of school activities that can be shared among friends.

In addition, an IB student joins a community whose members are united by their experience with the IB program. Students from varied backgrounds develop strong and lasting bonds of friendship through many wonderful academic and extracurricular pursuits.

adapted from

IB Coordinator Contact Info

Wendy Edelman (AHS)

Jessica Orth (HHS)

Lesa Berlinghoff (LDHS)

Micah Eads (PHHS)

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