Opinions on IB school

I searched and found this old thread from Amethyst, but didn’t want to revive it (BRAINS!)

We’re in a similar if not exact situation as the OP of the older thread. My daughter is looking at an IB school (magnet program) within a regular high school. We’re in Tampa, FL and the school is about 1200 students with around 425 of those in the IB “programme”. She’d have to commute to the school. On Saturday morning we went for an Open House and it only took about 20-25 minutes door to door, but in daily traffic I’d expect it to be more along the lines of 45+ minutes each way.

The staff and students that presented seemed enthusiastic, but the program is just graduating it’s first batch of kids this spring, so there’s not much to look at there in terms of results.

So, any new opinions on this? Amethyst, if you’re still around I’d like to hear what’s your opinion after a couple of years. My daughter is one of those bright kids that can get by without much work so far, so I don’t mind her being pushed to actually develop some good study skills.

My daughter and I considered it…she, too, is something of an overachiever. But, with four hours of homework every night, well, we wanted her to have a life. She likes to do yoga, be in the drama club, and play her violin…We didn’t think she’d have enought time. As it is, she’s a year ahead in math, and taking honors English and AP history.

I went to one–graduated in '99. It was about a 30-35 minute drive (I had my own car) through downtown traffic, but it was absolutely worth it. By the time I graduated I had 50 hours of college credit through AP programs, and ended up with a full scholarship (plus a $10K/yr stipend) to college. I would not classify myself as an overachiever. As for study skills, I think most very bright students study in a way that works for them, and that may not look very much like study skills to other people, but it works. Do you have any specific questions?

I graduated from an IB program in Australia and loved it. My impression is that, in the US, IB has to compete with AP but there was no comparable program in Australia. The thing I loved the most about the IB program was that everyone was there to learn rather than just muddle through and get a high school diploma. The curriculum is heavily geared towards that and has a very scholarly bent.

Gail: The IB program requires 150 hours of Community, Action & Service so not only would your daughter have been allowed to do yoga, drama, etc. She would have been encouraged to do it.

I graduated from an IB school in 2002. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

For the first time, I wasn’t surrounded by troublemakers. For the first time, I didn’t have to do busy work in class. For the first time, I studied subjects that were interesting and challenging. I learned about time management. I learned about prioritization.

It was a bad commute. One hour each way. I had to get up at 5am every weekday in order to catch a bus at 6. That wasn’t my only bus either: it and three others picked up a few kids each and then dumped us all into another bus that actually took us to school. I’d arrive at 7, which was about 20 minutes before classes started. It was ok though. The commute was good for doing math homework, or for required reading.

I and most of my classmates did after school activities. I was on the Debate Team, Forensics Team, and Scholastic Bowl. I was a student government representative one year. So IB + activities is still possible.

When I graduated, I had enough college credits to skip a year. I started my college career in 200 level classes. I could’ve graduated early if I wanted to. All of my IB friends and I agree: after doing four years of IB’s boot camp, college was a breeze. Our professors loved us. We got scholarships galore.

It was a long four years. But it was definitely worth it.

I don’t know much about IB in particular, beyond the fact that many people love it. For any sort of rigorous program, however, the most important thing is what your daughter thinks–she really needs to buy into the idea: if she’s resistant, don’t talk her into it no matter how much you like the idea, and if she’s adamant, let her try it whatever your reservations.

Personally, I’d lean towards trying it–she can always transfer out and back to a comprehensive high school if she hates it (though I’d make her commit to a full year, first).

I graduated from an IB program in 2004. Luckily it was at the high school I would have gone to anyway, which was about ten minutes from home, so I can’t weigh in on that. In retrospect I am incredibly glad I did it. I didn’t go to a typical college, but I still think I had a leg up on many of my peers in terms of study habits (I didn’t use those habits, but that’s kind of another story). I know most of my friends felt very well-prepared; there was no starting-college shock of needing to work hard academically.

In high school, I and plenty of my friends still had time for extra-curriculars. You might be up a bit later that way, but it’s not too hard to have a good balance.

It’s not for everyone, but it’s worth trying I’d say. For what it’s worth, I still feel a bit of pride when I think about the results of one of my exams, which was a lot better than I’d expected, so I guess it wasn’t a waste.

Also, in my (extremely limited) experience, the IB program attracts some of the best teachers.

I graduated from an IB “Middle Years Programme” in 1997 and a “Diploma Programme” in 1999. Both were as you’re describing, a subset of students at a larger school participating in the IB programme. I think it was absolutely worth the extra effort. For the most part, the teachers were interested, engaged, and seemed invested in the program, wanting it, and their students, to succeed. The IB teachers only taught IB students - I’m not sure if that would be the case for the school you’re considering, but if it is, I think they make sure to pick very good teachers for the programme, so you’re getting the best ones in the school.

The other students were almost all nerds like me who loved and wanted to learn, and while we were competitive with each other, there was also an atmosphere of teamwork and “we’re in this together” that really helped us all. What I liked best was learning how to learn, how to ask questions, how to judge information and eliminate irrelevant fluff to get to the core of what you need. When you understand the how and the why of things, instead of just cramming for the next test, a whole lot more stays with you. And that’s what the focus seemed to be.

Did it help me academically? I think it helped me transition easily to university, because I’d already been writing long essays and thinking critically and doing advanced chemistry and math. I was used to a heavier workload, and so it wasn’t a shock. It probably hurt me in terms of GPA (well, Quebec’s version of a GPA), because we weren’t weighted differently because we were at a “tougher” school. Where I went to school, instead of a GPA, they use a calculation and give you a rating based on where your grades fall relative to your peers. There was supposed to be an adjustment made to account for the difficulty of the program, but I didn’t see that happen. So, because our class averages were so high, something like an 88% average was, well, average. But I don’t think the grading system is the same in the States, so maybe that won’t be a problem.

Bottom line: it’s hard, it’s a lot of work, but it’s a different kind of learning that will stay with your daughter and help her to think. IMHO, totally worth it.

Well, here I though that as an IB graduate (as of 2004) I’d have something to add here. It’s a great program and if I were in high school again, I would definitely go for the IB diploma again.

I had been in advanced and honors classes for as long as I can remember so it was kind of a natural thing to try. My school required for students who wanted to do the full diploma program to take a senior level US government class sophomore year partially on the theory that there wouldn’t be time in a full IB schedule to take the class senior year; I could have fit it, but it would have been a pretty heavy load. The other part was that it was a very difficult class and served as a bit of a weed-out for students who weren’t serious or couldn’t handle the work load. I made it through but it was a serious wake up call. I studied twice as hard for that class than I had for any before (granted, I had coasted through middle school on the strength of a very, very intense fifth grade teacher (a story for another thread) but this was truly a very trying class.)

If the school your daughter would be attending has any sort of a pre-IB trial like my government class, I would definitely encourage her to give it a try if she thinks she can handle it. There’s a lot of work but I’d say that the rewards are well worth it. I started college (at my first choice school) about 2 credits short of being a sophomore (mainly because I chose not to take the credits for my Physics class; long story.)

As others have said, part of the appeal is that being in IB classes puts you with other people who are serious about school and that like-mindedness does bring about a certain degree of camaraderie. If you have the same core group of students in your physics class, your history class, your math class and your English class, and all of you are in the classes for the same reason, you tend to become closer with more of your classmates than you would if each class is a randomly shuffled mix of students.

I responded in the previous thread (IB graduate, 2001) and said this:

“I think the IB is definitely worth it, but it takes a certain kind of student to pull it off. In my case, I’ve always been quick to learn and good at languages, so that helped right from the start, but I struggled greatly with deadlines because I’m a chronic procrastinator. For someone with a healthy sense of schedules and a good organizational mind, it’s a great way to get an in-depth knowledge of certain subjects.”

I would like to add to that that if you are NOT someone with a healthy sense of schedules and a good organizational mind, the IB program can be a way of getting at least SOME semblance of those into your head.

I led a Girl Scout troop, played the recorder and tutored English-speaking kids at our school during the IB program. That pretty much made up my 150 CAS hours and I still had enough free time to get into arguments with my parents over the fact that I had too much free time.