hannah1by Hannah Benson, ’15

As a foolish, naive sophomore, I was lured into the IB Diploma Programme with promises of abundant college credit, an out-of-the-box education and the possibility of starting college with sophomore status.

Having an IB diploma can lend an advantage in the college application process and create opportunities to study abroad and every IB class fattens up your GPA by the same amount as an AP class. It seemed like a fantasy until I was bludgeoned by reality.

There’s no doubt that the IB program has upsides; however, the Upper Arlington chapter is disorganized. For instance, one poor soul had to write two Extended Essays last year thanks to a paperwork screw-up and was not granted an extension.

Many IB students feel that the program is a bit of a bait-and-switch: all it asks of you in your junior year is to write a couple Theory of Knowledge papers, attend the International Movies and come in on a few office hours days. Big deal.

Senior year, though, you have to sacrifice a couple Capstone days. While you’re staggering into school at eight in the morning to be assigned a ten-minute presentation and a five-page paper a week before the Extended Essay is due, your sane, non-IB classmates are snug and happy in their beds, just like you were before Theory of Knowledge made your soul wilt. (I wrote my TOK essay in Comic Sans as a pathetic act of rebellion.) I saw the IB flag out front flying at half mast and pretended it was a tribute to the happiness myself and my classmates once had—before IB sucked the light out of the world.

I’m kidding. Mostly.

Alumni at IB symposiums lightly cautioned us about the peril of the end of November and first half of December senior year, yet no words in the English language could truly encompass the darkness of that time. I didn’t even open Word docs for my non-school-related writing for a month. I began to relish car rides and long lines at Chipotle just because the Extended Essay couldn’t get to me there.

Over the course of this year, I’ve watched my classmates in the IB program slowly come unhinged. A friend of mine has devolved into asking people for an entire quarter’s worth of Online Government work two weeks before the deadline. We spend fifty minutes every day in English dedicated to making vague statements about upcoming deadlines and sobbing.

The IB program isn’t entirely without merit, but you should know what you’re getting yourself into. And, yes, I am writing this from the perspective of a fourth-quarter senior, so I don’t really know how IB will affect my future. I can’t tell which colleges I’ve gotten into solely because of IB and which ones didn’t really care about it.

But beware, underclassmen: IB markets itself as the perfect program for students who don’t like to be forced into a box, but IB is just a different box.