The IB Program: An Overview

Mikhail Tretyak, Reporter

West Anchorage High School is fortunate enough to offer one of the most recognizable programs by colleges all over the world. If any high school student wishes to be both prepared for college, and have a greater understanding of learning on a global scale, then the International Baccalaureate (IB) Program is the way to achieve this.

The IB mission statement ( reads as follows, “The International Baccalaureate aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.”

West offers many IB classes in a variety of subjects, from foreign language to math, and students can take a sampling of those courses in their high school career. The IB Diploma Program, which is a rigorous two-year program, offers high school students an advanced level of education and global, service-based concepts. It is an optional program that better prepares students for college and higher level academics. The diploma program has a reputation of being one of the most challenging programs in both West, and high school in general.

Time management is essential because there are credits students need to obtain, often by being involved in extracurricular activities. This may include an after-school sport, volunteer work, or the arts. A common question is if there are time constraints when enrolled in this program. IB Diploma student Houlton Dannenberg says, “not really, you have just got to be good with managing your time.”

IB teacher and coordinator of the program John Ruhlin has worked with many kids, and helped them for college prep. Ruhlin mentions how educators want students to be more open-minded and open to different activities, which is why there is a requirement to be involved in other matters outside of just schoolwork. To balance this requirement, Ruhlin says, “we understand that a teacher may be too excited with lecture, and we are balanced with our work.”

To complete the IB Diploma Program, members are required to write an extended essay on a topic of their choice. The extended essay is a 4,000-word essay, which is a requirement for anyone wishing to graduate with the IB Diploma. The extended essay allows the student to communicate ideas and arguments on a chosen topic. As well as preparing students for what college theses will be like, the extended essay also promotes strong communication skills. The student must have communication skills, to talk to teachers or staff about the topic they’re interested in, as to get the info they need.

While specific IB classes are a requirement for the diploma, students are welcome to take IB classes, without being in the diploma program itself. Being an IB teacher, David Vano has taught both IB members, and students wishing to be in more difficult classes. With that being said, it is commonly asked if there is a benefit for students to be in IB classes, even if you’re not a member of the actual diploma program. “Even if you’re not an IB student, students in IB classes are allowed to take the IB assessment exam, as well,” Vano said.

This assessment exam is mandatory for IB students, as well, as it shows colleges that you’re a responsible student. So even if you’re not an actual IB diploma candidate, students can still take an IB assessment exam for college recognition if they wish.

The diploma program is not for just any student. It requires extra courses, studying arts and foreign language, as well as out-of-school accomplishments. Nonetheless, it can still be a challenging amount, and one must be good with managing your time. If anyone wishes to go to college prepared, and become more open minded, then the International Baccalaureate is the perfect opportunity for high school students.