IB Diploma pros and cons


Mona Alteneiji , Staff Writer

We can all agree that high school was and still is an extremely stressful time for everyone at one point in their lives. Currently, at GAA, the seniors are buzzing around trying to fulfil their resumes and accomplish all they need to submit their university applications. As the seniors prepare themselves for the next step in their lives, the sophomores and freshmen prepare for their vital decision in choosing a curriculum that they are capable of achieving. But how should they deduce which curriculum is the best option for themselves? 

What can GAA offer and how is it provided? 

Here at Gems American Academy, they provide three curriculum options and two diplomas for 11th and 12th-grade students. There’s the full IB curriculum that receives the IB diploma at the end of your high school career. Secondly, there is a Half-IB curriculum that receives the American diploma. Lastly, there is the full-American curriculum that also receives the American diploma. 

Sophomores are going to decide their courses and diploma after a meeting with their provided counsellor and with the IB coordinator, Ms Monica Martin, in the middle of their academic year. They review the grades throughout high school, MAP test scores and finally advise students on what diploma would be most suitable for them. 

How is IB different from the alternative diploma? 

The IB Diploma curriculum has an international perspective and places a strong emphasis on self-directed, self-regulated learning via research and problem-solving techniques applicable to real-world problems. 

The diploma encourages learners to participate in a wide range of activities and lends equal weight to learning in and out of the classroom. As an example, when asked how do IB courses compare to American Diploma courses, a half-IB senior stated “I enjoy my IB classes more than my American classes, I am an individual that actually likes to learn and I’m always curious about learning more”. 

What are the benefits of the IB Diploma?

The IB Diploma is highly valued by universities everywhere across the world. Independent and self-directed learning is promoted. Students have stated that IB builds up organization skills and time management. One of these students is Arim Lim, a full IB student that has stated  “A cliche about IB, it has taught me about time management and just the importance about getting started in the first place.” The IB courses focus on social and emotional growth, such as becoming a global citizen with universal principles. It encourages students to think widely, for example, students must practice a foreign language and become familiar with diverse cultures, political systems, economical stances, etc. 

It’s an international certificate, so it’ll come in handy for pupils who would like to study or work in other countries. In international schools, the IB is a popular curriculum. It is beneficial to expat students, which is the majority of students at GAA, as it allows them to readily move to different countries.  

What are the disadvantages of the IB Diploma?

In terms of volume and diversity, some of the work, the depth required, and the deadlines can be daunting. As said by Ms Catherine Scolis, the high school counsellor, “The type of student that completes the Ib diploma is a student who is driven, a student who has done their research and understand what the IB program is all about. A student that has made a commitment to it.”  Not everyone is prepared to accept these changes nor have the ability to remain dedicated to such a rigorous program. Thus, IB is not for everyone. 

Academic pressure may be beneficial and can even function as a motivator to help students study more effectively. Many IB students, on the other hand, are so concerned with improving their grades that they become immobilised by the huge strain they place on themselves. An example that has been presented by Laila Sakr, a full IB senior “On one hand, it’s kinda driving me up a wall with how many activities there are. Even at home, I have to think about my CAS activities, ToK and IAs that have to be done outside of class.” This cannot only harm potential exam results, but it can also cause extreme anxiousness and stress that could affect their health and social abilities. But that is not necessarily true, as explained by Arim Lim, a full IB senior who stated that “ A lot of people say that IB completely destroys your social life, but I think that if you manage your time well, that’s not necessarily the case. The thing about IB is that you need to compartmentalize your time.”