There are rigorous programs all over the nation that reach out to advanced students who are aiming to achieve more in their scholastic life. In Montgomery County, there are two programs that currently hold the throne: the International Baccalaureate Diploma program and Advanced Placement courses. As students approach their junior year, a big decision awaits many to choose between these two prestigious options. Should one enter the IB program, and participate in an internationally-recognized curriculum, or load up on essential college classes under the AP system? The difficult choice is widely dependent on the individual student.
The mission of the International Baccalaureate Diploma (commonly known as IB) is “to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.” Meanwhile, AP is a cooperative bridge between secondary school and college. As, Richard Montgomery AP teacher Andrea Lyons says, “the IB program is a whole program of classes whereas in the AP you can pick and choose what you like.” This may mean that in IB there can definitely be an effect on the student in terms of academics, as there is a strict policy on required classes regardless of the student’s strengths and weaknesses. For example, a student who is taking AP courses can opt out of certain subjects, such as foreign languages, while IB students are required to take one.
Taking part in the IB program may lead to attending some of the highest-ranking universities around the world, but this does not come easily. According to IB sophomore Taylor Balfour, “most of our classes end up being all IB… You’re very much segregated from the whole school.” Since the IB has a course load including all subjects, most IB students are isolated from other students attending the school. IB student Daisy Grant also adds that “in order to lead a balanced life, you need to have the extra social skills to compensate for what you’re missing.” When asked about the negative aspects that come with earning the diploma, Meghan Audi and Tatiana Davidson immediately responded “No sleep.” The workload, especially during the first year when the student is adjusting, can range from four to eight hours; which can restrict extracurricular activities and rest. But, in the end, not only is the student recognized internationally, they are also “with a group of people who are going through the same thing as you” says Sonia Postolache, who is attending the Richard Montgomery IB program.
AP classes are courses that have a variety of factors that should be considered. These classes are college level courses that can help students get ahead in their studies, and are also very personal to the student. The student can choose the AP classes they would like to study according to their curiosity and strengths. Mrs. Lyons also claimed, “In AP, you kind of maximize your interests and what you like. . . and improve on your college level skills.” It is the easier of the two, because a student does not need to stuff their schedule full of juicy AP’s, but can take as many as he or she feels. However, if a student is taking more than one AP course, the classes do not work in sync with one another when assigning projects and homework. Meanwhile, IB teachers take into consideration that the student does other IB courses that will require serious independent work.
Both of these programs are designed to attract driven students to achieve and succeed. Many IB diploma graduates explained that once they attended college, “they sail through postsecondary education after those grueling IB years.” AP courses differ, but in the end they provide preparation for the student for the years where parents are not there to help. They are both highly respected among universities and made for students who want to learn more. When it comes down to the decision between the two, it is all about the ability and desire of the student.
Article by Shylee Yachin, MoCo Student staff writer