IB will pay off!


Image via Grace LaRow

No matter what level of IB you immerse yourself in, some of the most valuable lessons aren’t directly taught in class.  Taking IB classes teaches you valuable life lessons about communication in writing, speaking, time management, and so much more.

First and foremost, “it does prepare you for the writing aspect of college more than AP ever will,” Grace LaRow said, currently a freshman at UVA.  “There aren’t any multiple choice exams in college.  Most are short answer and free response exams.  So I’d definitely say IB prepares you really nicely to have lots of writing experience.” 

A lot of this writing practice comes from IB classes requiring Internal Assessments (IAs).  “I would describe an IA as kind of like the longest, most in depth research paper that you’re ever going to write,” Josh Umbrell said, a GMU graduate and civil engineer.  “Basically you either choose a topic or have a topic provided to you, and you do your research on that topic and then you write a paper based on the specific format that the teacher lays out.”  

This may sound like the worst thing in the world, but don’t worry!

“When you’re in college you’re going to have to write massive essays,” Josh added,  “and they become so much easier because you’re already used to it.”  Even in his experience as an engineering student, he still had to write. There’s no escaping this vital life skill!  “But I found that since I had done IB and written IAs, I was ahead of my peers.  I was much faster at writing.  My writing is much higher quality.  It was much easier to do well… My writing just stood out.”

Beyond just writing, IB teaches you valuable lessons about time management, which pays off.

Andrew Cramer, a freshman at JMU stated time management would “either be your best friend or your worst enemy when it comes to IB… There are two parts to every class, there are the things you do in class and out of class… but the most important thing, I think, is recognizing an IB class will require a substantial amount of out of class work.”

“During ‘IA season’ you really had to juggle all your different classes at once,” Josh recalled. “That is crucial because in college, it’s all time management.”  Students have much more free time in college, but there’s much more homework in that free time.  “… I had that IB base [which was] great prep for college.”

I hope all of this is helping you understand a little bit more about your options in doing IB.  I’ll give you one more reason why you should give it a go… you’re not in it alone!   

“IB will make you some friends along the way, 100%,” Andrew said.  “You’ll form friendships through the comradery of difficulty… IB is hard, but when you’re in it with other people, you can find the positives.”

Secondly, your teachers are there to help you!  They’re going to guide you through the process so you can get those IB credits.  

“At South Lakes, we have fantastic IB teachers who are trying to help you and doing the best that they can to make sure you perform at the best of your own abilities.  So I did get the IB diploma, but it wasn’t really just me.  My teachers helped me get there, too.”

 One final thing you should know:  “Just a piece of general advice… if you don’t get into the exact dream college you wanted to go, you’re going to be fine,” Josh said.  “The first job you get out of college is way more important than the actual university you attended.  After you get your first real job in your field and you’re looking at other jobs, companies aren’t going to look at the college you went to.  They’re going to look more at your job experience and experiences with past managers and how good you are at what you do rather than your educational background.”  So don’t worry too much about going to the exact college you want to, you’ll be fine.

So in conclusion, IB is not a death sentence.  Yes it is hard, but not impossible!  And if you just get at it and keep trying, you will succeed, whatever IB program you end up choosing.  And those skills you learn will benefit you later on in life.