The IB: Why Should I Take It and What Happens if I Don’t

ten reasons to take ib

In the last post, I wrote about the IB and described what it was what it entailed. The questions that now come up are: why should I take it and what happens if I don’t?

For many students, they will take the IB simply because they are interested (at least preliminarily) in college abroad. And students who don’t take it have the perception that doing so is just a waste of time because they have no intentions of going abroad. I think both schools of thought are dead wrong.

The IB is rigorous and challenging. I think I demonstrated that in my previous post. Ideally, I think one should undertake the IB simply because it is rigorous and challenging regardless of your college plans. IB trains you to modify your way of approaching learning and school from that of a child to that of an adult, and to that of a passionate learner. I think those are more than enough reasons to undertake the IB and will serve you well regardless of where you go to college.

Does the IB help you in your applications to colleges abroad? Undoubtedly, yes! Colleges (especially the more competitive ones) in the US appreciate and look for rigor in your high school curriculum. They like to see students challenge themselves and take the most rigorous classes possible. The IB is definitely that. US colleges universally agree that IB serves as an excellent preparation for the high standards of university level work.

That said, the IB is NOT a requirement for admission even to the most competitive US colleges and universities. It would be nice to have it and it’s a boost but it won’t disqualify you if you don’t have it. If you have the opportunity to take it and you didn’t, it does raise a red flag in the mind of many admissions officers. They’ll wonder if you tried to take the easier way out in order to pad your grades and avoid getting weaker grades for taking harder classes. Oh..they hate that…don’t ever play that game of taking easier classes to get easy A’s. The IB is a requirement though if you intend to apply to Canada or the UK. The Brits and Canadians don’t really trust the Philippine high school diploma. If you have (or will have) the IB though, then they will look at your qualifications as exceeding that of the Philippine high school graduate, exceeding that of even the regular Canadian or British high school graduate.

For most though, the question is: I go to a high school that does not offer IB. Am I at a competitive disadvantage to kids who did go to a high school with IB and have (or will have) the IB Diploma? Should I have transferred to ISM for high school? The answer is no….you are not at a disadvantage simply because you did not have IB. Why? Because applications are read in context. What does that mean? Reading in context means you are assessed according to your circumstances. If you didn’t go to a high school that offered IB, how is that your fault? If you went ahead and did the best you could at your non-IB high school and are developing into a mature, well balanced adult, that will be taken as a positive by admission committees. In other words, it’s not your fault and no, you didn’t need to have transferred to ISM. You’re fine where you are. Bloom where you are planted.

Another reason to take IB: if you do go abroad, if you get at least a 5 in your HL classes, you can use them to get around certain classes in college. In some institutions, they will grant you credit for SL classes you do well in too. I have a friend whose daughter goes to Boston University and her IB classes got her a year’s worth of credit. She will be graduating after only three years. What a savings!

The IB is now being recognized as well in more and more Philippine universities. UP, for instance, automatically admits IB Diploma graduates. It also grants university credit. Ateneo, in its shameful ignorance, recognizes IB only as a valid high school program but will not offer automatic admission or any course credit. La Salle is little better.


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