Advice from IB Candidate Seniors


Annie Eason

Taken on 5/1/2023 The IB Diploma is heavily advertised in Robinson, as there are two logos of it in the main hallway. This picture features one of the logos.

The IB Diploma is characterized as being hard, rigorous and time consuming. With the diploma requiring at least three higher level classes (HLs) and three single level classes (SLs), CAS (volunteer service) and an extended essay, most students don’t attempt the program. However, some juniors, now seniors have attempted the program and are now IB diploma candidates. The IB diploma is possible. Here is some advice from diploma candidates about the IB Diploma Program.

“Would you recommend the IB Diploma to rising juniors? Why or why not?” 

An anonymous senior said, “Yes, because it teaches you good skills that will help for college and college applications.” 

Abbey Harlow, a senior, said, “I would recommend it depending on where you want to go to college. If you can get into the college that you want to go to without it, then I would not waste your time with [the diploma].”

Another anonymous senior said, “Yes, because it’s definitely rewarding. It prepares you for college and it takes you out of your comfort zone, which is something that will need to happen in college so it was definitely rewarding to me.”

A fourth anonymous senior said, “I would because I feel like there’s no harm in doing it, it’s not amazing but it’s really not as bad as I think people make it out to be and even if you don’t get it, you’re still considered a candidate no matter what.”

Another anonymous senior said, “I would recommend it because I feel like with the IB diploma, I was able to get into like a lot of colleges with it…if you do really well in those classes, colleges will see that you tried really hard and you were in a rigorous course, so I would say it benefits people who [pursue the IB diploma].”

Overall, the IB diploma is something that students should pursue as it gives students a challenge and helps them gain necessary skills and experience for college. It also looks good in college transcripts and helps ease the transition from high school to college. Another added bonus is that it doesn’t seem to be as hard as it is made out to be, but the difficulty can vary depending on what classes students take and other factors. However, as Abbey said, it may not be worth it, depending on the schools they are applying to.

“How has the IB Diploma helped you with your future aspirations in life, if it has helped you at all?”

An anonymous senior said, “I would like to be a lawyer and it has helped me writing long-form papers and giving me practice in doing so, which I believe will help down the road.”

Abbey said, “I really enjoyed how writing-based it is, and I think my writing has improved a lot. Specifically, I thought the college application process was easier than it would have been if I didn’t have the writing skills that I acquired in my Junior year. And…the teachers within the IB curriculum…have really helped me learn how to study and what works for me.”

Another anonymous senior said, “It’s helped me kind of find what I want to do. The amount of options that I get with classes [helps me see] what I want to do and what I don’t want to do.”

A fourth anonymous senior said, “I think so. My brother told me that it’s helped in college…he says that most of them are IB-level and so it helps when you’re going into [college].”

Another anonymous senior said, “Because of the workload, I feel like it has prepared me for college. I know a lot of my brothers and my brothers’ friends who did the diploma, they were like, ‘Oh yeah, some of the [college] classes I took were way easier [for me] than other people who haven’t done [the IB diploma].’”

The IB diploma has helped students with their future aspirations in life, as it gives them life skills such as writing papers, or providing them a view into what jobs they may want to pursue. It has also helped students apply for college and make that process much easier with the additional skills they have gained from participating in the IB diploma program.

“What would be some advice that you would give to your junior self regarding the IB diploma?”

An anonymous senior said,  “Be careful about how you structure your HLs and SLs”

Abbey said, “Senior year is harder than junior year. I guess another piece of advice is if you can get a free period, do it and if you can get a free period, do it in the middle of the day, because if it’s in the beginning or the end, you’re gonna go home, you’re gonna sleep, you’re gonna not be productive but if you have it fifth or sixth period, then you’re going to get work done. I have a free fifth period and I haven’t had to do homework outside of school this entire year because I just do all my homework during fifth period or advisory. So that would be a really good piece of advice.”

Another anonymous senior said, “Keep on pushing. It doesn’t get much easier, but it’s definitely worth it in the end.”

A fourth anonymous senior said, “To try harder my junior year so my senior year would be way easier.”

Another anonymous senior said, “I would say time manage better. I was going to bed super late because I was leaving stuff for the last minute. “

The IB diploma is known for being rigorous with its extensive workload and challenging course material. It’s important that classes are chosen carefully with full consideration on how much work each course takes and also considering extracurricular activities and other responsibilities. However, it can be done, with enough perseverance and time management skills. It can definitely help to have extra time to complete assignments by getting a free period.

“What are some pros for the IB diploma?”

An anonymous senior said, “Pros are that it teaches you how to write at a college level and gives you practice writing full-length papers, which you will have to do in any sort of post-high school education.”

Abbey said, “Pros is that I don’t think I would have gotten into UVA, which is my dream school. I think that another pro is that it’s not as hard as people make it out to be [but] it depends on your schedule.

Another anonymous senior said, “Pros- definitely looks good. It prepares you for college. It’s rewarding, [you can make] new friends. It is a lot of work, for me it’s stressful at times but it’s also good to work through stress and see who you are.”

A fourth anonymous senior said, “I mean, you get to flex that you got the diploma. It’s considered [great] all over the world so I guess you can brag about that.”

Another anonymous senior said, “The workload [is a pro]. It’ll help you in the future because you’ve done all this work and you’re used to it [for future college classes].”

The program has helped a lot of students achieve their dreams, gain skills necessary for college, connections and more. There seems to be a lot going for it, as it really loosens the transition from high school to college. It’s also something to be proud of. 

“What are some cons for the IB diploma?”

An anonymous senior said, “Cons are that it can be overwhelming depending on how you manage your time and some parts of it feel like they’re of questionable merit, but you just kind of go along with it.”

Abbey said, “A con is that…it is very difficult coursework. There’s a lot of extra stuff you have to do for it, like the extended essay, CAS, which can be frustrating, but again, it’s totally manageable. The IB coordinators will keep you on task- they’re going to bug you about it if you haven’t gotten something done, so you’re never going to forget to do something.”

A third anonymous senior said, “It’s a lot of work. It’s a lot of work and effort and a lot of time.”

Another anonymous senior said, “The cons are that it’s hard…and especially- I’m an athlete, so having tennis matches and doing the diploma at the same time, it can get really difficult because I’m out all night playing and then I have to come home to do the work.”

The cons are quite reasonable considering how much work and grit the program requires students to have. The workload, depending on each students’ situation and other factors, seems manageable but can be overwhelming and may sometimes feel worthless. It’s also hard for students that have other commitments, especially extracurriculars such as sports and jobs. 

“Is the IB diploma worth the rigorous workload? Or would IB certificates be a better option?”

An anonymous senior said, “I think it’s worth the workload- you just have to be careful with how you manage your time and the classes that you take.”

Abbey said, “It depends. So if you’re taking one or two IB courses, then I think that’s what works for you. But if you’re taking five IB courses, I think you might as well just do the diploma. I think the extra stuff can be annoying, like the extended essay, but it’s really not that much [extra stuff]. The planning period is super organized and you [can] write it in two days. You don’t get the diploma until you’re well on your way to college so you might as well just put yourself through the extra work, even if you’re not going to get the diploma, because you’ll still be recommended to colleges as a candidate, which majorly improves your chances of getting into the school. So like I said, if you’re doing a few IB classes and then you’re doing honors or regular with the rest, then yeah, that’s probably what you need to be doing but I have friends who are in HL math courses but aren’t doing the diploma and they’ve been wondering, ‘why am I in this really hard math class if I’m not getting the diploma?’”

Another anonymous senior said, “I think it’s definitely worth it. The diploma looks good for colleges and especially around here, the colleges know the work that’s required, and they definitely acknowledge that.” 

A fourth anonymous senior said, “I think it’s worth it in the end because you learn a lot from the experience. I don’t regret doing it because I feel like I’ve developed as a student.”

The amount of work that the IB diploma requires seems to be manageable, especially considering the benefits that it brings to the students that partake in it. It prepares students for college and also helps them when applying for colleges, especially competitive ones. However, it depends on the student, as a student taking one IB course does not necessarily mean that they should pursue the IB diploma.

The IB diploma program at Robinson overall seems to be a great program, especially for those who want to pursue more challenging and competitive colleges. It’s also important for those who want to go to Virginia colleges. It prepares students for colleges, makes college transcripts look good for colleges to see and compare, gives students important skills, no matter their future aspirations in life and helps them gain new friends. However, it is challenging and does require a lot of effort and time, so it’s important to talk to an IB coordinator, either Ms. Vu or Ms. Cho before pursuing the IB diploma program.