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Benefits for IB students in the US

Hard truth and hope

IBDP is widely recognized as a hard and demanding program. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that many countries and universities across the globe have various benefits for IB graduates. Benefits like admission priority or waved English proficiency test requirements. However, as the saying goes – for every rule, there’s an exception. And this time is no different.  What country am I talking about? The US. Why? Because it is not particularly important whether you have the IB diploma or not during admissions. A vast majority of universities still require you to submit English language proficiency tests such as IELTS and TOEFL, your scores from standardized testing – SAT or ACT. Though this is right now optional but you may want to explore more for your specific choice of college and many other requirements that vary significantly between colleges.

Moreover, your GPA (Grade Point Average) and predicted grades may be more important for the admission office than your final IB certificate. It is because deadlines end before exams. Of course, you can use your IB journey in your college application essays to show how motivated and talented you are, but that’s it in most cases. 

All these may sound discouraging, but is IBDP really that worthless in the US? Lucky for us, there are still many considerable benefits, other than admission advantages – scholarships and course credits.

Course credits

However, before going further, I think the term “course credits” needs to be briefly explained. This is because many people outside of the US are unfamiliar with the concept. 

On the whole, credits are the number of hours you are required to spend in a class and study (given per semester or per year) to complete a degree. This is good information for transfer students because 1 credit hour at one university equals roughly 1 credit hour at another university. So that they can carry on studying without repeating a year. This is also excellent news for IB graduates because, in recognition of the rigor of IBDP, some universities give course credits to IB students based on subjects they took and grades they achieved in those subjects. Basically, it means finishing your degree earlier. (In addition, I recommend watching this Youtube video. It is a coherent and comprehensive breakdown of the peculiarity of the US higher education system.) 

Having introduced all essential terms, we can jump straight to universities with the greatest benefits for IB students in the US: 

  • Saint Michael’s College 
  • Drew University 
  • Whitworth University 
  • Worcester Polytechnic Institute 

Saint Michael’s College

Saint Micheal’s College is a private Roman Catholic college in Colchester, Vermont. Despite Catholic background, Saint Micheal’s College’s website emphasizes that all students are welcomed “no matter what your spiritual and religious affiliation (and even if you have none at all).” Furthermore, the college offers a wide range of subjects from different disciplines. Though what benefits are there especially  for IB students? Well, Saint Micheal’s College has a comprehensive admission policy for IB students

Let’s start with the admission process. 

If you are about to complete the full diploma or even individual IB courses, you will receive special consideration during admission. You will also be waived from TOEFL/IELTS requirement, provided that you achieved “a score of 5 or higher in two or more HL or SL courses that are taught in English and are not ESL/EFL courses”. Furthermore, standardized testing such as SAT or ACT are optional. Besides, IB graduates are highly welcome to join the Honors Program that guarantees smaller study groups and other privileges.

 When it comes to financial benefits, Saint Micheal’s College grants a maximum of 32 credits, depending on your final scores. The condition is to achieve a grade of 5 or higher in SL or HL subjects in order to be eligible. Once again, 32 credits let you start college education with one year advantage, meaning you save money. A very in-depth and user-friendly explanation of which courses and grades account for what and how many credits you receive can be found under this link. However, the most thrilling part is probably the huge merit-based scholarship for IB graduates that ranges from $18,000 to $30,000. The exact sum is reliant on your performance, but, given that tuition and other fees add up to around $70,000, even $18,000 seems decent.

 Go and check out the application requirements for Saint Michael’s College! 

Drew University

 Drew University is a private university in Madison, New Jersey, surrounded by a large forest (hence its nickname: University in the Forest.) The university offers BA and BS degrees in 42 disciplines; list of which you can find here.

 First, Drew awards IB graduates up to 32 credits, which translates to one whole year of study (it may depend on your degree). This means that you can enter the university with second-year standing and save some money. How can you earn those credits? Drew websites states the following: 

  • Higher Level IB courses (HL) – Students with a score of 5 or above will be awarded 8 Drew credits up to a maximum of 32 credits. 
  • Standard Level IB courses (SL) – Students with a score of 5 or above will be awarded 4 Drew credits up to a maximum of 32 credits. 

A more detailed PDF explanation is hidden under this link.  

Second, Drew grants various merit-based scholarships to both domestic and international students that range from $10,000 to $25,000. IBDP students can use their CAS portfolio to apply for Civic Engagement Scholarship that is worth $2,500 per year. In addition, those who took something from the Arts group are welcome to apply for the Drew Scholarship in the Arts, amounting to $1,400 per year. All this money can cover a considerable chunk of all expenses such as tuition fees, food, housing etc. ($65,000 more or less). Unfortunately, there are limited employment options for international students so those from outside of the US may be devoid of any additional income. As always, I recommend reading the admission page very carefully. 

Whitworth University

Whitworth University is a private university located in Spokane, Washington and is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church. The university takes pride in its Christian community of scholars that teach more than 100 undergraduate majors and programs, plus graduate and doctoral programs. The most eye-catching part is arguably the crystal-clear financial aid policy, not only for IB graduates. There are four different scholarships that offer different amounts of money and are granted based on your 3 HL subject grades.

The table looks as follows: 

  • Mind & Heart Scholarship: Up to $28,000 per year
    3 higher-level exams with grades of 7,7,7 or 7,7,6 
  • Presidential Scholarship: Up to $25,000 per year
    3 higher-level exams with grades of 7,6,6 or 7,6,5 
  • Trustee Scholarship: Up to $22,000 per year
    3 higher-level exams with grades of 6,6,6 or 6,6,5 
  • Whitworth Scholarship: Up to $20,000 per year
    3 higher-level exams with grades of 6,5,5 or 5,5,5 

Considering that the estimated cost of attendance equals roughly $70,000, these scholarships appear to be noticeable! Moreover, as happened before, Whitworth can give up to 32 credits for IB students. The list tackling the specifics of this process is provided here. Saving a year of study along with a bunch of bucks is exciting. But getting all the credits seems more difficult than in Saint Micheal’s College or Drew. Click the link and decide by yourself. However, no matter the odds, I suggest you get familiar with the admission process at Whitworth. 

Worcester Polytechnic Institute 

Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) is a private research university in Worcester, Massachusetts. WPI focuses on STEM subjects and applying theory in practice, making it a worth-considering choice for future scientists and technicians. As a student, you can select a degree from many that are available. First off, if you received 40 or more points on your IB diploma, you qualify for the Presidential Scholarship that is worth a minimum of $25,000 per year and may increase owing to “academic performance in high school, recommendations, leadership, extracurricular involvement, and community service.” However, how high this scholarship can grow is not precisely stated. For more information, you need to contact the university.

 Nevertheless, even 25 grants play nicely with the total budgeted costs that vary between $68,000 (for off-campus students) and $80,000 (for on-campus students). What is also worth noticing is course credits. Although they are not as impressive as they are at other places, they’re still a good add-on. To receive those credits, you need to score grades 6 or 7 in HL subjects – SL ones do not qualify – and provide the official transcript from the IB. Furthermore, there’s bad news for those considering applying for Humanities or Arts at WPI because “only 1/3 of IB credit (or AP credit) can be used toward the WPI Humanities and Arts requirement”. 

Nevertheless, the offer of WPI is quite good and, combined with other scholarships, can be a great relief for your pocket. Feel free to check their admission requirements!

 As I said at the very beginning of this article, applying for the US is not easy for IB students. Not only do you need to complete a ridiculously difficult curriculum, but also meet an awful lot of additional requirements that add up to a huge workload. It’s a matter of different attitudes – in the US, it is assumed that if you apply to a certain place, you have a sincere interest in being there, not just because “it’s popular.”

 However, as you can see, there are places (such as Saint Michael’s College, Drew University, Whitworth University or WIP) that recognize how far from being easy IBDP is and offer a rich award in return. There are of course other institutions that give benefits to IB graduates – a list of such places can be found here. I also suggest reading about need-blind admission, especially combined with the full need option. It’s not IB-specific but may interest you.

 Anyway, I hope you find this article useful!

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