5 Things That Everybody Should Know About the International Baccalaureate (IB) Program

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Simranjeet (Sim) Singh is a second-year medical student at the College of Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan. He completed the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma in High School and won the 2015 Schulich Leader Scholarship. His academic interests include research in Stroke Management and Medical Education. When not at the library, you can find him playing sports or watching Netflix.

The International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma is a prestigious high school program that provides students with an opportunity to obtain a high quality and internationally standardized education. It emphasizes not just academic growth but also strives to create well-rounded community members who are able to actively contribute to their societies.

Students often ask me about what makes the IB program different to your normal high school education. Here are a few reasons that I believe make the IB diploma an excellent opportunity for budding high school students. 

1. Challenge

In many ways, this program can be viewed as a stepping stone between high school and university. It is often acknowledged that there can be a steep learning curve moving into post-secondary education. The IB diploma can ease that transition as the levels of academic rigour can often mimic those experienced in during university.

Although this early challenge might not interest everyone, it offers you to experiment when the stakes are pretty low. You will be challenged like you’ve never been before, and gain some crucial experience as to how to manage yourself in times of distress. 

2. Standardized

When I initially joined the program, I wanted to study in universities like University of Toronto and University of British Columbia. As an out of province applicant from Saskatchewan, this can be a daunting task because these schools can find it difficult to interpret high school scores from people across the country due to a lack of standardization. 

Since everyone in the world writes the same IB exams, its scores are standardized and can be used as dependable tools for comparison. Moreover, if you are from a smaller city like me (Saskatoon), it can open the door for you to apply to universities in different countries as some of my peers did successfully. 


3. Scholarships

University can be quite expensive as the different bills start to add up. Luckily, there are tons of scholarships that are available to students. Furthermore, many universities have specific scholarships that are reserved only for IB students. Since there are still a relatively small proportion of IB students in Canada, this can offer an excellent opportunity to compete against a smaller number of students for scholarships.


4. Transfer Credits

Due to its recognition as an international and standardized educational program, many universities in Canada recognize that the curriculums of certain IB classes overlap with some of their undergraduate classes. Hence, they offer transfer credits which mean that you then don’t have to take those classes in university.

This can be used in many different ways. For example, if you have done well on your IB English Exams, you may not need to take an English course in University. Now you can either use this to explore another class or not take any class at all, effectively saving you hundreds of dollars. Contrary to scholarships, you are not competing against others for transfer credits but rather it depends completely on your individual achievements.


5. Creating Well-Rounded Community Members

The IB program, through its Creative, Action & Service (CAS) module, acknowledges the importance of creating a well-rounded individual who is not just academically strong but finds creative ways of contributing to their society. For example, many people volunteer at different organizations or are involved in projects they would otherwise not be. In doing so, they are able to find new avenues of knowledge and inspiration. 

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