As the Diploma Coordinator here at Mira Loma I am often asked "Why should any kid do IB?" The folks who ask me this are usually looking at the amount of work required versus the payoff, or benefit, in college admissions. They ask a fair question, and so here's my brief response.
There is a lot of work involved in IB, especially for our diploma students. Six exams over two years, one hundred and fifty hours of community service and a 4000 word extended essay are the diploma requirements. Mira Loma students can choose to do the Mira Loma Associate, but that's still four exams and 100 hours of community service. Even students who take only one exam will be working harder and at a higher level than in other classes that they could take. Whatever else it might be, IB is not a program for students who are looking to avoid work.
The second part of the question - the college admission part - is what interests parents and students the most. To put it bluntly, the International Baccalaureate program is not about getting anyone into college. I've posted the mission statement several times, but it bears mention here that IB is about developing students who examine the world critically and who understand their place in a gobal community. Students who choose to take IB classes or complete the IB diploma will definitely work harder than their peers, and they may or may not get into the same colleges.
Instead, IB students - all IB students - are exposed to a world view that underscores the importance of education not only in their own lives but also to the world at large. Whether students take one IB testing class or six, they come away realizing that other students throughout the world are taking essentially the same classes at essentially the same time. They will be exposed to curriculum that is simply unavailable in any other program currently offered in American high schools. Most important, IB students are expected to understand their lives in a global context - as part of much more than just California or even the United States of America. This context requires that students go beyond their own comfort zones to learn about other cultures and peoples throughout the world.
The IB world view is not without benefits. What IB does for students is prepare them very well for whatever college they attend. I've heard this too many times from too many students to doubt it; our kids have a relatively easy time with the academic side of college life once they get there. They know how to study, how to speak up during seminars and how to address their instructors with confidence and clarity. We as a faculty feel proud of these facts and proud of the students who go on to represent the school at colleges all over the world.
So my response to the question "why IB?" is the following: "Because being prepared for college is at least as important as getting accepted. Because, whether we like it or not, the world is getting smaller and understanding your own place in it helps you and the rest of us. Because life is about the choices we make now, and IB is the best high school curriculum offered anywhere."