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What’s IB like in the Midwest U.S.?

Due to COVID-19 still being an issue in the U.S., this article will be from the perspective of  a virtual IB School in the U.S.

After meeting many HSAs and Grads from around the world through IBlieve, I realized how different my school is compared to other IB Schools. Here, I’ll be documenting those differences. What I say here is not representative of all IB Schools in the United States, just my school system.

Different SL & HL Schedules

The first detail I noticed is that our SL and HL Subjects work differently. In other schools, students choose their SL and HL subjects once they start the Diploma Programme. In my school, students decide their SL and HL subjects in Y2. Both SL and HL study the same content, but students take separate exams based on their SL or HL choice.  Sometime during Y2, I will have to decide whether I want Physics HL or Physics SL. Both subjects teach the same content (standards 1-8 and 8-14), but SL students are not tested on standards 8-14 on the official IB exam since they are the extra requirements required of HL students.

Double the CAS Activities

Another difference is that my school has an Enrichment program. These are extracurricular courses that are offered by the school or other organizations. We are required to have 6 to obtain a diploma at the end. Of these, up to 3 can be “Independent” Enrichments. All this means is that the student brings their own opportunity to the table and reflects upon it. Unfortunately, these don’t count for CAS, nor are they free.

Course Selection

We also lack the vast course selection that other schools have. Until joining IBlieve (and watching Katie’s YouTube videos), I didn’t know that there are so many IB subjects, like IB Computer Science, IB Arabic, and IB Psychology. There are so many other subjects I’m interested in that my school just doesn’t carry. The only languages we have are IB Spanish and IB French, and although I enjoy Spanish, I wish that there was a wider selection of languages to choose from. 

IB Predicted Scores & U.S. Colleges

One downside though is that we can’t send out IB scores to American colleges. The universities accept the scores later, but they don’t make or break your acceptance. Colleges only receive predicted scores, and you get in based on those. If your actual scores are lower than your predicted scores, however, colleges reserve the right to terminate your acceptance. What colleges DO receive in the application process are the IA marks, since they are factored into the GPA by the school. 

Even though my school is very different, there are still many core similarities with other schools that bring us together. The international mindedness of the IB system and its students helps understand other cultures and communicate better with them. I’ve grown as a student and a human being through this wonderful program, and I can’t wait to see where it takes me next.

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