International Baccalaureate: A School Counselor's Prospective

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What makes the IB program different?  The IB program is a comprehensive program in that it requires students to study courses in 6 subject areas over the course of the 2 year diploma program.  Students take courses in language and literature, language acquisition, individuals and societies, sciences, mathematics, and the arts.  They are also required to complete the IB diploma core which consists of the extended essay (a 3,000 to 4,000 word research paper), theory of knowledge, and creativity, activity, and service (CAS).  

The IB program is designed to develop students into more than learners.  Throughout the program students are taught to embrace all of the IB learner profile traits (see image).  They are encouraged to be well-balanced as they complete their creativity, activity, service (CAS) portfolios.  To complete CAS, students must develop plans to meet goals in the areas of creativity, activity, and service.  Students in the diploma program have made plans such as learning how to cook, crochet, run a 5K, reach a PR in their sport, volunteer at a nursing home, and raise a certain amount of money for a charity.  CAS often requires them to go out of their comfort zones and have experiences they wouldn't have otherwise had.  


What also stands out about the IB program is the way students are assessed.  In other programs students take a single final exam and that is what determines whether they pass and could potentially receive college credit.  In the IB Diploma Program each subject area has at least a few different components that are factored in to the final subject area score.  For example, in English Literature, over the two years of the course the students have a written assignment (essay), oral presentation, individual oral commentary, and two written exams.  These four scores make up the final English Literature score on a scale of 1 to 7.  The IB assessments are designed to give students multiple ways to express what they have learned.  

Who are IB students?  IB students are motivated by rigorous coursework.  They enjoy taking on new challenges.  IB students don't give up when things get hard, they are resilient and determined to succeed.  IB students are independent and collaborative workers.  They are effective time managers who enjoy being involved in and out of school.  IB students are passionate about learning not just factual knowledge, but knowledge of themselves and those around them.  They are constantly reflective and always striving for better.  

 What are the benefits of IB?  Is it worth it?  Students have consistently returned to say it was hard, but it was most definitely worth it.  They have been accepted into competitive universities such as Harvard, MIT, University of Virginia, Johns Hopkins, and West Point.  The program is internationally standardized and recognized.  Students can earn college credit based on their individual subject area scores.  Students who earn their IB diploma have the ACT and SAT test scores waived for the Florida Bright Futures scholarship program.  The program has proven to strengthen time management skills and build research and essay writing skills.  At Cape Coral High School the program has student and family supports such as: student socials, study sessions, family potlucks, informational seminars, and scholarship opportunities. 

Example of IB Progression Plan


Katelyn Uhler, graduated from FGCU in 2007 with a BA in Psychology and in 2010 with a MA in Counseling.  She has been a school counselor at Cape Coral High School for 5 years and transitioned into the role of IB coordinator in the fall of 2018.  Katelyn is passionate about the IB diploma program and working with students to achieve their academic and personal goals.