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Is IB the right way to go?

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Hi,

I am a 15 year old student currently in Auckland, NZ. My school is offering IB for the first time next year (ie. I will be the first year). It will be the first non private school in New Zealand to be offering IB so they are very keen to get it off the ground. In NZ we have a national qualification (called NCEA), however, while this is fine for NZ Universities, because we are a small country and the system is reasonably new, NCEA provides little context for overseas Uni applications. This is one of a couple reasons I am interested in doing IB. Also, because NCEA is a national qualification, it is pitched at the middle, and at times leaves me bored. The main thing holding me back is that very few people I know are doing it (they see no reason to do it over NCEA) and I am worried by the workload and if I'll get good enough grades to make it worthwhile. Also a two year course seems slightly daunting. However because few people are doing it it means class sizes will be small so it will be close to private tutoring.

My basic question is what did you like and dislike about IB. Did not having friends in your classes matter? Was the workload overwhelming (Is there still enough time to play sports etc)? Did it actually provide you with an advantage in the end? Just what can I expect?

It's a big choice for me so I'm after honest answers and real issues (all the stuff on the internet is either very negative or overly positive testimonials)

Thank you

Edited by DavidNZ

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I moved to a completely new school to do IB, so I had no friends in the beginning.Honestly, you'll make friends with the people in IB really quickly. You're all in it together and you're all going through the same stuff, so by the end of it all you have a really tight knit support group around you. That's probably one of the best parts of the whole programme for me. The class sizes is also great - before IB, I'd only ever been in classes of at least 20 people. Now, my biggest class has 20, while my smallest has 5. It really helps because it means that you're close to your teachers and are able to get 1-on-1 explanations of things you're stuck on. It also brings your class together again, so there's even more support.

I took IB because, like you, I was bored with the system in my country. In the end, I've decided to stay here for university so it really doesn't give me an advantage university-wise so I can't really address that. Still, the IB has helped me mature as a person and I think has prepared me really well for what lies ahead of me. There were times when I just wanted to give up (lots of those >.<), but I'm so glad now that I've stuck it through. There's no denying that it's a tough slog for two years, but I really do think it's worth it.

I know that probably seems overly positive but it's really how I feel about the whole thing. Maybe I'm just a little nostalgic now that it's almost over for me, but I'd definitely recommend it if you feel able for it. I didn't put much thought into my decision to do IB (I honestly made it the night before the deadline, having only started researching a couple of weeks before) so the only advice I can give you decision-wise is to make it for yourself. Don't worry about friends or parents or whatever. Do IB because it's what you want to do. Besides, if they're really your friends it won't matter that you're not in the same classes any more.

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Well i'm going to an international school right now in Shanghai, and they didn't give us the opportunity to choose if we wanted to do IB or not. One thing I definitely have to say about IB is that it gave me the opportunity to challenge myself in classes that I wouldn't have, if I had the choice.

I think it also gives an advantage depending if you want to study a particular subject in university such as biology or chemistry for example. Because basically everything you learn at the HL level you are going to relearn again in uni. Besides, since IB is becoming more popular around the world, if you get a 4 or 5 and up.. depending on which classes you take, its easy to get college credit. A few friends of mine are applying to a university where if they score 30 points they have enough college credits to skip their first year. Also, with the smaller classes, I agree its better because there is more of an opportunity to ask questions.

One thing I could say I struggled with was catching up on sleep jaja. I used to go to a public school where I hardly had to study or do any homework, but when I moved to Shanghai and started IB, it was certainly an eye opener. Of course everywhere had their stressful days when they just said screw it I dont care. But if you just take it one step at a time then you'll make it through. It also didn't really matter so much about not having friends in a certain class, because there is so much teaching going on you wont really have time to talk to them until after class is over. But everyone once in a while, all of us would crack jokes and just have a good time.

So although there were some points where I was so stressed that I cried my eyes out, in the end it gave me an advantage when applying to university and I've even helped a few of my friends in uni with their homework. So as much as I complain, in the end I think IB is worth it.

Hope that helps !

Best of luck in your decision : D

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Hi,

I am a 15 year old student currently in Auckland, NZ. My school is offering IB for the first time next year (ie. I will be the first year). It will be the first non private school in New Zealand to be offering IB so they are very keen to get it off the ground. In NZ we have a national qualification (called NCEA), however, while this is fine for NZ Universities, because we are a small country and the system is reasonably new, NCEA provides little context for overseas Uni applications. This is one of a couple reasons I am interested in doing IB. Also, because NCEA is a national qualification, it is pitched at the middle, and at times leaves me bored. The main thing holding me back is that very few people I know are doing it (they see no reason to do it over NCEA) and I am worried by the workload and if I'll get good enough grades to make it worthwhile. Also a two year course seems slightly daunting. However because few people are doing it it means class sizes will be small so it will be close to private tutoring.

My basic question is what did you like and dislike about IB. Did not having friends in your classes matter? Was the workload overwhelming (Is there still enough time to play sports etc)? Did it actually provide you with an advantage in the end? Just what can I expect?

It's a big choice for me so I'm after honest answers and real issues (all the stuff on the internet is either very negative or overly positive testimonials)

Thank you

Nothing you have mentioned should pose an issue for you, particularly due to what you said above that I placed in bold. Considering that, the IB would be an interesting challenge for you, and the smaller class size factor is indubitably a major benefit. However, there can often be major problems when a school begins offering newly offering IB: unless your school has gone out of their way to actively recruit experienced IB teachers across the board, it is unfortunately quite likely that some of your teachers will directly hamper your ability to do well in IB.

The issues arising from that can for the most part be avoided by doing your own research - i.e. reading course documentation, examiner's reports, multiple textbooks, websites such as this one, etc; however some aspects, such as IA moderation, are unavoidable (though less of a problem in smaller classes, provided you do them right yourself). In your situation, I would also look at the average competence of the others considering IB: if you end up with small classes of competent and confident individuals, it will be a stimulating and beneficial experience, and you will be able to support each other in order to overcome potential teaching incompetence. Otherwise, and I say this from ongoing experience, it can turn into an absolute cluster****.

University-wise, it's unlikely to help you overmuch in domestic applications; however it does open the world up to you. Although, when you consider international universities you must consider expenses. While certain universities such as HKU offer merit scholarships for international students, at many universities merit scholarships at undergraduate level are either near-impossible or non-existent, and financial aid is generally only offered to domestic students.

Edited by Tony Stark

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IB everywhere has its days where you will want to kill yourself, they expect a lot from you as a person, as a student. I am in the 2nd cohort of IB at my 6th form, there were 3 of us who chose to go to the same (but different) school, we all left the high school we'd been at before, and we'd never been incredibly close friends. 1 dropped out and only 2 of us left. I've dealt with incompetent teachers - only a few teachers have had the proper IB training, the rest are sort of making it up as they go along. (my school have decided to drop the IB as soon as this years year 12s graduate next year).

Not having your friends around shouldn't be an issue, you meet new people all the time, you're bound to make new friends.

I chose the IB because I'd already got part of a normal English post 16 qualification (an AS level) so I wanted a new challenge and I wanted to go to cambridge if I was staying in the uk, or I wanted to go home to sweden and study journalism at the prestigious journalism school there. These are the issues I discovered: I can't go to journalism school in stockholm because I don't have any Swedish qualifications, and I do not study Swedish in the IB - big mistake for me, so that dream is down the drain (for now at least), and I can't go to Cambridge because my grades in each of my subjects aren't good enough, they're not bad, I'm predicted 30/45, but Cambridge wants 36+/45, so that plan messed up too. Although I can still go to good universities, and I have 1 pretty good university lined up, my boyfriend (non-IB, going to York uni next year) thinks I'm too good for the universities I have applied to. Thing is, for me, my choice of subjects in the IB (japanese rather than Swedish) has restricted me from being able to do what I really want to do, I can't go home to study journalism because I don't have the relevant qualifications, and I can't go to Cambridge because I can't get the grades - I was also just rejected from Newcastle university simply because I was predicted 2 points below their entry requirement. My only hope if getting in to a top university is if I go to Dublin and study at Trinity College Dublin, and I was so desperate to go to Dublin that I applied for a course that I'm far too good for... Had I studied A Levels, like most of my friends, I would have been able to do a Swedish qualification on the side, I would have been able to go home and I would have been able to go to Cambridge (assuming that they accepted me). But having said this, I seem to be at a huge advantage from all the other students applying to the same courses as me, because I've not narrowed myself down into one particular course (well I have, but not at the age of 16 like normal A level students do). But it will be worth it in the end, it's not like I'm going to go to the UK's crappiest university...

IB is a challenge definitely.

As for sports, you have to do CAS, so you can continue with your hobbies and put them towards passing your course, however CAS becomes a bit of a chore after a while because of all the paperwork to keep up with...

I think I've had a rather more negative experience in the IB than probably most others, so don't take my experience as the average...

It's so much work but will be worth it, I promise and although IB was a bad choice, I don't think I would change it for anything in the entire world - its an experience and has given me the best opportunities I could ever ask for and I've met amazing people. Whatever you choose, do it because it's right for you. When I applied, there was nothing to change my opinion on doing the IB, I wanted to do it from the moment I found out what it was, and I don't regret it even though it's restricted me a lot! But what the hell, I can always catch up on the extra qualifications while I'm at uni!

Good luck!

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