A representative of Harvard University once told me that the IB is ‘The Business.’ The Diploma Programme (DP) is rapidly becoming the foremost pre-University educational experience. Top universities from around the world recognise its rigour and versatility, its stringent examination standards and its holistic ideals of independent thought, ethical guidance and international-mindedness. One only need to look at the IB Learner Profile to understand the organisation’s dedication to creating a community of life-long learners well-versed in the values of citizenship and moral practice. These are self-evident statements: now you’ve chosen to undertake the programme, how best to make the most of it?
The strength of the DP is in its depth and breadth. Students are immersed in a range of subjects (from six groups) and to levels of inquiry traditionally associated with programmes that have fewer subject requirements, e.g. A-Levels. The sheer amount of material covered can seem at first overwhelming, but a structured timetable both at school and at home will ensure success. Equally, the core components of the DP – Theory of Knowledge (TOK), Extended Essay (EE) and C.A.S – will bolster the traditional subjects and consolidate learning, knowledge and, perhaps most importantly, thinking skills and their application. Making the right choices in TOK and EE is a key factor in the DP experience. Yes, it is always valuable to explore new avenues of study. However, when choosing your subjects for the TOK and EE essays, maintaining a balance is essential. Look to subject areas you know are well-resourced in your school and local libraries; perhaps work on an area that you will cover in the main subject syllabus but aim to go further, to use the classroom as a basis for your own research; start early: identify teachers you wish to work with and approach them considerately. There is nothing a teacher likes more than a student who wishes to pursue his studies above and beyond what is done in the classroom.