A Project for Better Journalism chapter

IB, AP programs offer students glimpse into college expectations

People all over the world are dying for educational opportunity but luckily for you, two prestigious educational programs are provided for you at Parkdale. The Advanced Placement (AP) and the International Baccalaureate (IB) are high school initiatives that furnish college-like classes that give an insight to what college-level courses are identical to. 

When deciding which route to choose, most students question which one looks more promising on a resume, which will get you into Ivy league colleges, and most often which one is harder?  

Both programs offer challenging courses to prospective college students; nevertheless, their objective and existence differ.

AP was introduced in the U.S. to assist high school students to prepare for college while earning college credits by taking refined courses. It focuses on educating students on fixed subjects and reinforces that by testing their knowledge on the exams through multiple choice and essay questions. Exams are graded on a scale of one through five.

The difficulty of AP differs because of the different types of courses it has. 

“The course was a little out of my expectation because it was a little more difficult and I had to study more efficiently,” said sophomore Asma Amsa, who currently takes AP government and politics. 

On the other hand, IB was developed in Switzerland to become an internationally-recognized diploma. It focuses on writing and developing evaluative thoughts and not just on exams. In order to receive the IB diploma–which is not guaranteed just for being in the program–participating students must complete an extended essay, a long college technique research paper, a set number of community action and service (CAS) hours, much higher than the 24 required of other high school students, along with a variety of other coursework. 

IB prepares students for what’s to come in college with the workload, and to have that experience comes with hard work. 

“I’II be much more comfortable in future situations in college than most of my peers for sure, whether that be in terms of work load or social matters,” said senior Hana Fall who partakes in the IB program. 

Not only does it require and improve educational strengths, many students also feel the IB program changes them as a person. 

“It extends to other parts of your life, not just academically,” said Fall. “There’s also a lot more application of what you learn than I expected. I’m very much satisfied and grateful for the reality check.”

Because teachers are the individuals who enlighten the youth to become the next leaders of our generation, in both programs, they play an important role in ensuring success.  

“The teachers do help and for the most part, they are very passionate about what they’re teaching which engages me and helps me retain more information to take with me into the days leading up to our exams,” said junior Precious Agary, who was once in the pre-IB program but is currently taking a number of AP courses. “At the end of the day, I, as the test taker, am responsible for how I prepare for this test and how much I study.”

Similar to AP, the IB students feel as though the educators in their program are very much helping them prepare for what’s to come in the future.

“Everything the teachers do is to help you be more prepared,” said Fall. “They’re a huge support source in the program. They’re there to help and be aid for you.”

Although many students believe IB is just about how hard you can work, it also requires self-building traits that would be beneficial in ensuring that you can succeed. Many IB students agree that a participating student cannot be weak-minded or hurt easily if they want to join IB. There are certain characteristics that must be in a student looking forward to joining the IB program. 

“A must would be self-awareness,” said Fall. “If that’s linked to being adaptive, and willing to change, then you should do good. The program challenges you. It’s hard and puts you in plenty of positions where you’ll be criticized.”

She explained further that most of the criticism are constructive and allow students to look inside themselves, accept areas in which they need to improve and become stronger people. 

There are also certain characteristics that must be included in a determined student looking forward to taking AP courses. 

“If an individual wants to take an AP course and they are confident then they should have no trouble as long as they put time and effort into the class,” said AP senior Obaidullah Alhamadani. “The individual should be well-behaved and well-mannered toward his/her peers and toward the teacher.”.

Almost all  colleges and universities will place equivalent  weight on AP and IB courses. Because IB is less common in U.S. schools and is more international in nature, it’s likely many colleges are more familiar with the AP modules and curriculum. Both programs are considered rigorous, and students usually receive college credit if they have obtained a certain score on exams. 

For AP, that is usually a minimum score of three; for IB, the minimum is usually five. Many U.S. colleges also only allow credit to be given on IB Higher Level subjects. Colleges want to see that students challenged themselves in the coursework. Although one of the perks of taking AP is to get college credit, beware that not all do.

Credit or not, the programs still serve as great preparation for students.

“Taking these courses are essential to me because at the end of the day, I’m still learning what I can expect to be learning in college,” said Agary. “The fact that I’ll be able to take this knowledge with me and at least be a little ahead, gives me hope and keeps me motivated to continue taking these courses despite what may become of the credit.” 

Similar to the AP program, the IB program also allows you to step out of your comfort Zone. Graduates from the IB Diploma have surpassed global standards of academic achievement, giving them the confidence to pursue higher learning. 

According to trinity.edu, IB graduates are 21.4 percent more likely to be admitted into 10 of the most prestigious universities in the U.S., including Harvard, Princeton, Yale and Stanford.

However, more than half of the IB enrolled students don’t get their diploma due to their poor testing results.

The AP program is a bit more student-centered as it allows you to pick only the courses you are interested in while leaving the others out completely. In IB, there is a little less leeway. 

“I decided IB wasn’t for me based on the restrictions the curriculum had,” said Agary. “Since the program is so extensive, they require set courses, and for the career I wished to pursue at the time, I found the restriction a deal-breaker for me.”

However, if applying to a college overseas seems to be up your alley, then the IB program may be a better option for you.

Regardless of the program you take, you want to be sure you can find a balance between accomplishing college-level courses and your other special interests. At the end of the day, colleges seek well-rounded scholars that not only challenge themselves academically, but also participate and engage in other extracurricular activities.