Is Full IB Worth It?

Having finished their two years in Full IB, graduating seniors examine whether Full IB was worth the hassle

As students approach their junior year, their counselors present them with an option to become International Baccalaureate Diploma Candidates. This path, unlike the AP programme, comes with additional academic work including writing Internal Assessment papers for each subject, drafting a 15-20 page Extended Essay on the topic of their choice, as well as rigorous coursework and end of the year exams. When asked whether or not it was worth it, this year’s graduating class of Diploma Candidates was pretty divided.


The IB programme can be a welcome challenge to students that seek academic rigor. The classes tend to be more demanding and in depth than their AP counterparts, something that certain students thrive on. 


“I feel like I learned a lot about myself that will help me prepare for college,” said Full Diploma student Mary Kate Tracy. “Taking challenging classes allowed me to experiment with different methods of studying, allowing me to see what worked best with my brain. I also feel like it challenged me and gave me good time management skills and taught me how to deal with stress and different challenges.”


While some students thrived under the pressure of Full IB, others struggled to decide between prioritizing their grades and prioritizing their mental and physical health. At this year’s banquet, students joked about being up at three a.m. on skype calls about their IB assignments. While the throngs of Diploma candidates chuckled at this experience that has become universal to the IB programme, the toll of academic stress ruined the experience for some IB students.


“I personally know multiple people who really struggling with maintaining their mental health due to Full IB,” said IB student Jillian Surdilla. “Even when all of our assignments were completed, the consequences of the program still continued to take a toll on a lot of students.”


The social aspects of IB help to make it a favorite high school experience for some students. Sharing the same struggles and sleepless nights helps the students in the programme to bond even closer than they would with classmates in other courses.


 “You form a sort of family with your cohort, through the shared challenges but more importantly in the shared triumphs,” said IB student Declan Edwards.


For other students, it’s a more complicated answer than a simple yes or no. When weighing the pros and cons of the experience, IB candidate Carina Bachmann explains that she doesn’t quite know if her IB experience was worth it or not.


“Like for getting into college? No. But for preparing to college? Yes,” Bachmann said.


So, for those considering entering into Full IB, the experience that you have depends on who you are as a student. If you thrive under pressure and find it easy to meet deadlines, IB may be the perfect choice for you. However, if you already struggle with your mental health given your current courseload, a combination of IB and AP classes may be a better option for you. Be sure to discuss all your concerns with your counselors, and remember to prioritize your mental and physical health and to know your own limits.