Why do universities love the IB?

Posted on 25th Jan 2018 in University Study, Canada

Dan Seneker, Director Enrolment Management, Bishop’s University in Canada, explains how the IB diploma is the perfect bridge to university...

Let me get this out right from the get go – I LOVE IB! There I said it. I don’t think you’ll find too many admissions-type people at Canadian universities who don’t love the IB curriculum. It’s not that I don’t like other curricula, I do, but how can you NOT love IB? It is arguably the most holistic curriculum available, it allows for student mobility, it is straightforward, and it is easy to understand and assess. Moreover, as research shows, IB curriculum students are often better prepared for university and outperform their first year counterparts (University of British Columbia conducted a ten-year study about how IB graduates performed at UBC during their first-semester compared to those studying the local provincial curriculum. IB students demonstrated higher research skills, library skills, ability to read and comprehend academic material, and performed better academically – you can find a link to the research here: http://www.ibo.org/contentassets/60d1e68eafc7437fa...).

While the IB may not be for everyone, for those that do complete the IB Diploma, here are some of the benefits that will help you with your transition to university:

  • you are learning at a similar pace as university students;
  • you are conducting original research and learning how to attribute ideas to original sources;
  • you are writing a 4,000 word essay that mimics university assignments;
  • you are learning about ethics, critical thinking, analytical thought, questioning, and how to think;
  • you are learning about the importance of interdisciplinarity and viewing topics/issues from multiple angles;
  • you are aware of self and community within a global context;
  • you reflect upon the work you are doing and give back to your community;
  • you are a well-rounded individual!

There are definitely other benefits to the IB and I think Canadian universities have done a good job in recognizing the rigour of the IB diploma program and awarding IB diploma students accordingly. For example, many universities will accept the IB diploma without needing any other sort of high school curriculum or graduating diploma – the IB diploma is MORE than enough. Added to this is that many universities will consider you for competitive admissions with total anticipated diploma grades of 26. Others, such as Bishop’s, will then award you with up to a year (30 credits) of advanced credits and in some cases, again such as Bishop’s, you can pick and choose the advanced credits according to your needs. An example of this is a student completing Biology HL. The student can decide to:

a) take the advanced credit for Biology HL and go into second year biology course;

b) take the advanced credit for Biology HL and then take something completely different and never take a biology course again;

c) or refuse the advanced credit for Biology HL and take the first year introductory biology courses and theoretically do amazing on the course since most of the material will be review (a word of warning….I’ve seen this last option go terribly wrong as the student thought the course work was too easy and stopped going to class. They missed some key new material and ended up not doing that well on the final exam or in the class. So if you do pick this option don’t neglect putting in the time and effort as you would for any other class!).

Receiving advanced credit also allows you to become more creative with your degree. Instead of taking four years to complete an undergraduate degree you could now complete it in three years which allows you to begin graduate or professional school or your career one year earlier. Maybe it provides you with the flexibility to add a minor, a double major or even a double degree and complete that in four years. Or maybe it simply allows you to lighten your course load and fully enjoy your university experience by getting involved in extra-curricular activities, a part-time job, pursuing a hobby or passion, learning a new language or learning to play an instrument or do something that you always wish you made time for – now’s your chance!

The other major draw of considering Canadian universities for most IB students is that because you are completing your IB diploma most of us won’t ask for:

  • test scores like SAT or ACT (we have your diploma anticipated grades so that will suffice);
  • language proficiency tests (we typically accept English Language A or B in lieu of proficiency tests);
  • extra essays (you’ve already written a 4,000 word essay, why would I want you to write more?);
  • reference letters or letter of intent (you’re an IB student, we know you’re well-rounded, you’ve done your CAS, what more can a reference tell me?);
  • jumping on one foot while rubbing your belly – OK we might ask for this one just to see if you can do it….and I know you’re trying it right now!

Admissions can really be as simple as telling us who you are, where you live and what school you attend, what program you want to study, and then sending us your anticipated grades – that’s it! Clear, straightforward and simple to understand – just like the IB.

So when you are having one of those days when you are shaking your head wondering why you ever agreed to pursue the IB diploma just remember that the work you put in now will only benefit you and your transition to university. You’ll be better prepared than your non-IB colleagues and odds are, you’ll outperform them as well. And have I mentioned that university admission officers love the IB? The IB is a win-win all around.