Last week, Temescal Canyon High School (TCHS) held an IB Forum for more than 100 students across all high school grade levels. The IB Program, otherwise known as the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program, is the most rigorous academic program the district has to offer. Only available at TCHS, the program challenges students to think as a global citizen and to become reflective, inquisitive, principled, open-minded and balanced.
The Diploma Program doesn’t begin until a candidate’s junior year. However, underclassmen prepare for the program in their freshman and sophomore year through taking Pre-IB classes. These classes consist of Advanced Placement classes, as well as Honors classes. Such challenging courses are designed to initiate a more nuanced perspective that ultimately gives them a head start over students who take regular courses.
At the IB Forum, current IB seniors and juniors led the event, with the main focus being to start a network throughout the entirety of the IB students (something that has ceased to exist since the dawn of the program in 2012). Upperclassmen gave speeches, delegated activities, shared their experiences and gave advice to the dozens of freshmen and sophomores. As a leading senior myself, I gave a quick spiel on the importance of bonding within the program.
When in the IB Diploma Program, your classmates quickly become a second family because the curriculum is extremely specialized. In other words, choosing to go through with the rigorous program means having the same classes with the same people over the course of their junior and senior years. Being closely linked is not a mandatory characteristic, but having close relationships with your fellow IB candidates definitely helps in the grand scheme of things.
Aside from being surrounded by the same peers over the course of one’s upperclassmen years, what makes the IB Diploma Program unique is its three main components. This trio consists of a four thousand-word research essay, a six week long active service project and lastly, a unique, two semester course known as the Theory of Knowledge that explores the subjects of epistemology: the study of how we know what we know.
Each aspect is designed to gear each student with college-level experience alongside the additional aim of cultivating globally-minded citizens.
By the end of a candidate’s senior year, one should expect to fulfill the IB Learner Profile, a list of ten characteristics that captivates the mindset of a globally-minded citizen. The goal of an IB student is to be principled, inquisitive, reflective, open-minded, balanced, knowledgeable, caring people who are risk-takers, thinkers and communicators.
By becoming an IB student, the ultimate achievement is to receive the IB Diploma. This diploma is earned through a combination of passing exams taken at the end of a student’s senior year as well as passing numerous assessment tasks that are assigned throughout junior and senior year.
Earning the IB Diploma is no easy task, but the benefits of achieving it are invaluable. Not only does one gain college-level experience through the program’s trifecta of core components, but college credit is heavily awarded on top of it. It is not uncommon for an IB graduate to have near-junior status during their first year as a college student as a result of the amassed credits. Additionally, the college acceptance rates of an IB student have been found to be significantly higher than students in other college preparatory classes.
A common question that arises for students thinking of joining the program is “Is it worth it?” It’s a question I myself have had to face prior to becoming an IB student. Heck, there are still times when I ask myself the same question despite being a senior. While I can only speak from my own experience, it’s an experience that has fundamentally shaped who I am as a person; of course, for the better. And the question of whether it’s worth it or not is only discovered at the end of the journey. Right now, I think it’s faring particularly well, and the experiences with the people I’ve met is something I’d never trade.