Is It Worth Enrolling in the International Baccalaureate? - Atlas Academy

Is It Worth Enrolling in the International Baccalaureate?

University Applications


By Jonas Kavaliauskas

Published 2023 04 21

The International Baccalaureate (IB) program, designed to develop inquiring, knowledgeable, and caring young individuals, is both lauded and criticized for its rigorous curriculum and global focus. But is it truly worth enrolling in the IB? In this article, we’ll explore the benefits and challenges of the program, delve into some enlightening statistics, and help you decide if the IB path is right for you.

The International Baccalaureate - A Global Outlook

The IB program, offered in over 150 countries, aims to cultivate global citizens equipped to navigate our interconnected world. With a focus on cultural understanding, language development, and critical thinking skills, the program encourages students to become open-minded, principled, and reflective learners.

Academics and the Art of Balancing

The IB program is known for its demanding academic curriculum, which includes the Primary Years Programme (PYP), Middle Years Programme (MYP), and Diploma Programme (DP). The DP, in particular, requires students to tackle six subject areas, the Theory of Knowledge (TOK) course, an extended essay, and the Creativity, Activity, and Service (CAS) component. While the workload can be intense, it can also promote the development of time-management and problem-solving skills.

In our experience, one of the most important factors to determine a student’s success in the IBDP is their command of the English language. Students who have a lower level of English coming in will likely struggle more throughout the program, but with enough hard work and determination, this gap can be overcome. On the other hand, if the student is especially strong when it comes to English, they’ll likely grasp material across all subjects faster and have an early edge over their peers.

No matter where you land on the “Command of English Scale”, it’s important to stress that putting in the work and overcoming the challenges IBDP has to offer is well worth the effort and will offer several benefits down the road, such as:

  • An easier time preparing for English language proficiency tests like IELTS or TOEFL, and standardized tests like the SAT or the ACT. 
  • Access to a wider range of study materials – whether it’s investing or inorganic chemistry, chances are that the best guides and studies on the matter are published in English. Knowing the terminology and having a better grasp of the language in general will give you access to these information sources and will accelerate your learning.
  • A better time taking on college. Like in the IBDP, most of your learning at university will likely take shape in the form essays. Writing amazing essays, which the IBDP is better equipped to teach you than any other program, in our view, will certainly give you a solid foundation in your later studies. Moreover, in more direct terms, many universities, like Yale, offer accelerated credit programs for those who performed well in the IBDP (scored 6-7 in higher level subjects), allowing them to place into more advanced courses upon arrival and, potentially, graduate in 3 years rather than 4. 
College Preparedness and Admissions Benefits

According to a 2016 study by the Higher Education Statistics Agency, 57% of IB students in the UK achieved first-class honors degrees compared to 28% of A-level students. Additionally, IB students have a higher acceptance rate at top universities. For example, IB students had a 22.8% acceptance rate at the University of Cambridge compared to the 20.8% overall acceptance rate in 2020. A solid IB score (39 or above out of 45) is considered very competitive for entry into top universities in the UK.

The same holds true for universities in the United States: a survey of more than 4,000 students conducted by the International Insight Research Group in partnership with the International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO) showed that the acceptance rate of IB students into Ivy League universities is up to 18% higher than the total population acceptance rate. The number was even higher – 22% – for other top schools outside the Ivy League.

The Cost of the IB Experience

The cost of the IB program can vary, with fees ranging from $4,000 to $6,000, depending on the school and location. However, some schools offer scholarships or financial aid to help offset the cost for eligible students.

The Great Debate - Is the IB Program Right for You?

Ultimately, the decision to enroll in the IB program depends on individual student goals, interests, and learning styles. For some, the rigor and international focus of the program may be the perfect launchpad for future academic and professional success. For others, the workload and costs might be too great a challenge. It’s crucial to carefully consider your unique circumstances and aspirations before embarking on the IB journey.

Some tips we provide our students here:

  • Consider the school where you’d like to complete your IBDP. Not all schools who administer the IBDP are created equal. It’s good to inquire about the school’s track-record – for example, what was the average final score of graduates in the last few years? If the score is on the lower end, potentially the school is poorly equipped (lacks well trained teachers and other resources) to empower its student to excel in the program. Also, not all IB schools offer the same subjects – if you’re really passionate about Computer Science, but it’s simply not part of the school’s IBDP offering, maybe the program at this particular school isn’t for you.
  • If you’re applying to universities in your home country as well, check their admissions requirements and see if the IBDP is treated on par with the national program.
  • Consider your desire to partake in academic competitions. For example, some of our students across Germany and Eastern Europe compete in national and international scientific olympiads, other types of competitions, and the teachers and study groups who prepare for such endeavors are centered around the national curriculum. In such rarer cases the IBDP might not be right for you.

The International Baccalaureate program offers numerous benefits, from fostering global citizenship to preparing students for higher education. However, it’s essential to weigh the pros and cons, keeping in mind your individual goals and abilities. Armed with knowledge and insight, you’ll be better equipped to make an informed decision about whether the IB program is the right fit for you.


Published by

Jonas Kavaliauskas

You may also be interested in

Become Our Newsletter Subscriber!

Subscribe to our newsletter and get valuable advice on study programs, funding opportunities and much more!