The IB Diploma Program: A Review

Dakota Ridge High School students celebrating their entry into the IB Diploma program. (Holly Davis)

Dakota Ridge High School students celebrating their entry into the IB Diploma program. (Holly Davis)

Bailey Briggs, Editor

In my freshman year of high school, I was a student at Columbine and decided I wanted a more challenging academic experience. This led me to the IB Diploma program at Dakota Ridge High School; it was different from anything I had ever done before, but I knew it would be a fantastic experience. 

What is the IB Diploma? 

The IB Diploma is a rigorous high school program with a global focus. It is offered in schools across the world with the purpose of allowing students to lead their own learning and fulfill their curiosity. It encourages students to find balance between subject areas and to broaden their horizons in discovering new subjects and interests through aspects such as the Extended Essay and CAS (creativity, activity, and service). 

The IB Diploma is rigorous, as you are taking college level core classes in addition to a college level foreign language and elective. However, it is completely do-able with plenty of hard work and determination — the benefits outweigh the stress and difficulties. 

Why I chose the IB Diploma

The IB Diploma fits with my learning style. It focuses more on learning how to think critically and analytically rather than on memorization of facts and concepts which is common in college level courses. I also knew from the beginning that the IB Diploma offers opportunities for researching and exploring topics that I am interested in. I knew these factors would benefit me and work well with the way I learn, which led me to the IB Diploma Program.

These aspects of the IB program fit many learning styles. If you want to learn to think more creatively and learn in a way that allows you to explore unique and interesting topics, then the IB Diploma, or IB classes in general, might be something to consider. 

The IB Diploma Experience

My absolute favorite part of the IB Diploma has been the focus on global perspectives that it offers. In language and literature we focus on books from across the world, providing me with insights to cultures ranging from South Africa to Iran. In history we learn about modern history across the globe which is especially useful in understanding current global issues. We are required to take a foreign language class which immerses IB students in another culture. 

There are also opportunities in every class to explore your own interests through Internal Assessments (IAs). I have researched topics like flowering plants and the statistical correlation between diabetes and poverty through IAs. For the IB Diploma you also write The Extended Essay which can cover practically any topic and provides helpful experience in performing research. This was one of my favorite parts of the IB program because I could explore my topic in depth and I learned so much about research and writing in the process.

Dakota Ridge IB Students celebrating the completion of their Extended Essays. (Holly Davis)

The IB exams themselves are also unique and helpful. They focus on writing effectively under a time constraint and thinking clearly and analytically under pressure. It is different from an AP class where memorizing information from the course is the only way to pass. IB exams focus more on how the student thinks about a question or writes an essay than on regurgitating facts, which is an important skill that reaches far beyond its role in the IB program.  

These experiences have left me feeling very prepared for college. I already have experience in writing and research, and I have knowledge from a global perspective which is an important thing to know. I learned to think critically and I feel confident this skill will help me in the future. The IB program sets students up for success not only on their exams, but for later academic and general life experiences. 

What are the Benefits of the IB Diploma

The IB Diploma completely widened my mindset. Not only did it improve my study skills and critical thinking skills, but it transformed the way I approach education and learning. Before the IB Diploma, I was more grade driven and not as focused on learning as I am now. From the IB Diploma I developed a passion for learning which not only helped me find success but made the program and school more exciting and enjoyable. 

Another benefit of the IB Diploma is the college credit you can accumulate from the programme, especially if you stay in Colorado for college. The state of Colorado passed a bill requiring colleges to give in-state IB Diploma students a certain amount of college credits for IB classes. This can save you a lot of money and will eliminate the need to take some freshman classes in college. 

Social Aspects of the IB Diploma

The IB Diploma program threw me into a small and tight knit community which has its advantages and disadvantages. There are nine people in the IB Diploma class of 2023, meaning some of my classes only have about four people. The small class sizes can be very helpful because it is easier to get assistance from teachers and work with other students. It also allows for the formation of strong bonds between peers. However, it can be very limiting as well, you only get to hear the same perspectives over and over again, and you are spending a lot of time with the same people.  

Opportunities to Get Involved

The IB Diploma is a heavy commitment, but it is completely doable with hard work and determination. IB classes can be accessible to people at many different levels and backgrounds and they can really change the way you approach a subject. Anyone can take an IB class if they are willing to put in the effort. If you are interested in the IB Diploma program or taking IB classes it is best to talk to the Dakota Ridge IB Coordinator Holly Davis. Mrs. Davis can provide more information about classes and requirements and connect you with resources to find success in IB.