21 IB Program Pros and Cons

The International Baccalaureate® (IB) program offers students access to a continuum of international education. This option encourages academic and personal achievement by challenging individuals to excel in their work while they focus on numerous areas of development. Schools must be authorized to teach IB programs, and every location authorized is known as an IB World School.

It can be challenging at times to know whether or not the IB program is right for you. These are the crucial key points to consider if you are looking at the International Baccalaureate program today.

List of the Pros of the IB Program

1. Your education receives global recognition.
This advantage is one of the most significant for the IB program. When you attend a school that is authorized to teach in the International Baccalaureate structure, then you are receiving an education that will instantly place you on the global stage for education. Your application will offer a context that is far above and beyond what other students would offer by staying in domestic classes instead. It is easier for universities to understand your results and how you compare to other candidates, when means IB success can translate into career happiness.

2. It prepares you for the university experience.
When you earn an International Baccalaureate diploma, then you have evidence to support your petition that your skills and methods of learning will give the school who accepts you an advantage when it comes to future learning. You will receive two full years of practice to master the fundamental skills of writing essays, citing sources, and knowing how to conduct independent research for your projects. That means you’ll be turning in your final assignments when you reach your college program when the other students are still trying to find reference guides.

3. You will receive a well-rounded education with the IB program.
When you choose the International Baccalaureate program, then you are introducing yourself to a breadth of study options that no other curriculum in the world can provide. Students receive a much wider range of subject exposure with IB than in other forms of study. You can pursue philosophy, computer science, global politics, psychology, and many more options that are not always on the subject lists of your preferred school. By providing more choices, it helps you to form a strength of character that makes it possible to push yourself further than you ever thought possible thanks to the flexibility offered by this program.

4. It provides students with a stronger sense of achievement.
Let’s say that history is your favorite subject in school. Now when you follow the IB program, you achieve a seven in that coursework. Although that score makes you feel good, it is also a reflection of your passion and interest in the information presented to you. The International Baccalaureate program wants you to be equally good with your weaker subject areas, which might be reading or mathematics. If you can score a five or six in these areas, then you will get to see what it is like to really achieve something. Over 240 teaching hours is necessary for subjects at the HL (higher level) in this program.

5. There is an element of personal development to consider with the IB program.
When you work with the International Baccalaureate, you will grow as a student and as a human being. One of the primary goals for the programs is to create a world that focuses on peace by teaching adults how to be socially conscious. When you are confident and can understand the materials being taught, then there is an opportunity to create meaningful contributions that help everyone long after you complete your diploma. The CAS component of this program requires you to take a break from studying to ensure that there is a balance approach to how you tackle your educational needs.

6. It can provide you with advanced standing in the future.
If you are able to successfully graduate from an International Baccalaureate program, then you may receive college credits that can transfer over to your preferred institution. If you plan to study in a foreign country, especially as an American, then this option can help you to get through your coursework quickly to focus on your core subject areas. This advantage also makes it possible to receive advanced standing in some institutions if you entered the IB program while still in high school. It may be possible to begin your junior year instead of entering as a freshman.

7. There are opportunities available for students at almost an age.
When schools begin to work with International Baccalaureate for programming, then there are three programs which are available to include at individual schools based on the age and/or grade levels of the students. The Primary Years Program (PYP) and Middle Years Program (MYP) allows those on the lower end of the K-12 scale an opportunity to pursue advanced learning opportunities that challenge their developmental curve. Then there is the IB program that can help high school students be more prepared for the college experience.

8. The IB program aligns with the recommendations made by the Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce.
This Commission is a bipartisan group of educational, government, and business leaders which are trying to restructure the U.S.-based school system from preschool through high school graduation to have it become more competitive in the global environment. The IB program falls in line with the suggestions made by those involved on how to change the system to prepare tomorrow’s leaders for the rigors of what it takes to earn a secondary education. Although there are certain challenges to face with this learning option that may not make it suitable for all students, those who do find success can often make a faster impact on the world.

9. School districts can use Title I funds to implement programming.
Critics of the International Baccalaureate program often label this opportunity as being elitist or only available to a privileged few students in every district. The opposite is often true. Approximately 30% of the IB World Schools in the United States received Title I anti-poverty money from the government. This makes it possible to increase the number of students who are enrolled in the program despite their eligibility for reduced-price or free lunches.

List of the Cons of the IB Program

1. The benefits often apply more to U.S. universities than anywhere else in the world.
Although the International Baccalaureate program offers a global experience and perspective for students to enjoy, the benefits are typically recognized more in the United States than they are in other parts of the world. The recognition of success is still present with the IB program, no matter where you happen to be, but it may not hold the same value in some parts of the planet. That is why a complete evaluation of what you hope to achieve with your education is necessary before deciding on this course of action.

2. You must be a self-starter to find success with the IB program.
If you decide to pursue an International Baccalaureate diploma, then you must be willing to work on your self-study and time management skills. It is up to you to make sure that your schedule works with the current assignments that you have. The IB program mandates a hefty workload, so if you struggle with good study habits now, the issue could hold you back from the success that you want. You will be ready for the difficulties of higher education if you are successful, but if you are not, then you may discover that going to college might not be the best choice for you overall.

3. This program does not test fact or theory memorization.
The International Baccalaureate program is not concerned about how well you can memorize mathematic algorithms or remember specific facts about theories or events in history. It wants you to have a better grasp on your ability to understand how information is presented to you in higher levels of education, and then how to apply theories to encourage forward progress. That means subject matters which rely heavily on fact-based knowledge, such as history, may not always offer students the same level of benefits that those studying in other fields enjoy with the IB program.

4. You must maintain a robust understanding of all of the materials.
Students who think that the International Baccalaureate program will be a walk in the park are sadly mistaken. You must be a long-distance learner to find success if you begin to pursue the IB approach. Most schools require you to stay engaged throughout an entire year (or at least a semester) to ensure that you know the materials. When you consider the pros and cons of the IB program, then you must be ready to test on two years’ worth of material before passing the course. When you enroll, then you are making a two-year commitment.

5. You cannot procrastinate on the workload that the IB program provides.
When you join the IB program, then you will need to push through all of the assignments and coursework that come with the 6 mandatory subjects that are part of the process. You will also need to complete the projects, presentations, and essays that are necessary for your CAS, TOK, and EE requirements. That means you must remain diligent and organized, which are traits that are arguably more necessary than the underlying intelligence that brought you to the International Baccalaureate in the first place. If you cannot manage your time effectively, then you may find that options for extracurricular activities become extremely limited.

6. There is less flexibility in the learning process.
Despite the fact that there are numerous subject choices available in the modern schooling process, the International Baccalaureate program provides less flexibility because of its compulsory studies. You must follow a rigid curriculum that does not allow for personal interpretation. Your only option might be to forgo the arts category when you enroll, allowing you to take two science or math courses instead. Depending on what you want to pursue as a career one day, this disadvantage may not correctly prepare you for the challenges that you will face with your education in the future.

7. The results of the IB program are heavily dependent on your tests.
When you enroll in the International Baccalaureate program, then the goal is more to study for the tests that you will take than to have a complete understanding of the materials you review. Despite all of the different presentations and assignments which are necessary to complete the curriculum, test scores account for up to 75% of the final grade that you receive. Even internal assessments of your performance might weigh more on your outcome than the actual work you put into a specific project. That is why many students struggle at the end of the curriculum because the tests require 2 years of information to be readily accessible.

8. There is no guarantee of placement or credits.
Although some colleges and universities to provide students with an International Baccalaureate diploma an advanced standing or course credits that shorten the number of additional classes that are necessary to receive a degree, this process does not apply to every school. You will need to speak with an admissions counselor before agreeing to attend the college of your choice to see if they will recognize the high-level tests and other work that you accomplished in the IB program.

9. You may not have any local access to the IB program.
Even though the International Baccalaureate program was established in 1968 and is currently available in over 120 countries, there are only about 700 IB World Schools located in the United States. There is an excellent chance that you may not have access to any of the programs that are available through this opportunity. Even though districts can use Title I funds to implement this program many that do offer access may only offer one program instead of the full coursework that is available through the series.

10. The IB program is expensive to implement for school districts.
If a school district wants to be considered for the International Baccalaureate program, then they must put together about $10,000 in application fees to get that process started. This cost does not include travel expenses, training costs for teachers and coordinators, and the annual fees that are necessary to maintain accreditation. Each individual who attends the personal development courses comes at a cost of $1,000. The annual certification fees are $8,850 for high schools or $5,220 for elementary or middle schools. If you run all three programs in the district, then you must pay all three costs – albeit with a 10% discount. There are even per-student and subject fees to pay, along with postage costs for test grading since that doesn’t happen on-location.

11. Schools cannot implement individual IB courses for their students.
If a school decided not to adopt the entire diploma program that is provided through International Baccalaureate, then they are not given the option to offer individual IB courses. This disadvantage is what prevents more American students from taking this work, which often prevents them from maximizing their achieve. That is why there are over 14,000 schools that are offering the AP program, compared to the roughly 700 that offer the IB program.

12. The IB program is a signatory to the Earth Charter.
The Earth Charter was completed on June 29, 2000 to create an ethical framework to the building of a peaceful, sustainable, and global society. Some families believe more in a nationalistic approach instead of one that seems borderless, so including their children in the IB program can be a choice that forces them to evaluate their morals. Although being a signatory to this charter is not necessarily a disadvantage in itself, it does create a potential issue where qualifying students may not use the curriculum because they object to non-educational actions taken by the program.

The pros and cons of the IB program are essential to evaluate if you are thinking about the pursuit of a Bachelor’s degree or more to establish your career. It is an option that may not be right for everyone, so be sure to speak with your guidance counselor, parents, teachers, and school administrators to see if your interests align with those of the International Baccalaureate. If they do, then you may discover that this program can make it easier to get one foot in the door of a future job opportunity.

Blog Post Author Credentials
Louise Gaille is the author of this post. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Louise has almost a decade of experience in Banking and Finance. If you have any suggestions on how to make this post better, then go here to contact our team.