By Erin Mellon

Sitting with her on the steps outside of the auditorium, Olivia Rojas seems like your typical, hardworking student: dressed casually and comfortably with an average packed backpack and the same tired gaze most students acquire after being lectured for 7 hours.

Most likely, this is contrary to the appearance that many would visualize for a student pursuing an IB Diploma.

However, Rojas is an IB Diploma candidate herself. Rojas, a UAHS junior, is currently pursuing the diploma at the high school through taking various International Baccalaureate courses, otherwise known as IB courses. The IB program is a strenuous, two-year curriculum provided to Juniors and Seniors that’s main purpose to prepare students for studies after high school that focus on areas such as critical thinking and application of knowledge, through an international approach.

Upper Arlington High School was approved to provide the program at the beginning of the 2004-2005 school year, and has seen quite an increase in students with an interest in pursuing the IB Diploma since then.

Rojas, joining the ranks with many others, hopes to gain an insightful, helpful, and an all around successful experience from the program.

So I understand that you’re taking the IB Diploma Program this year. How did you find out about the program?

Well, my mom actually found out about it. And she was really interested in my pursuing the diploma, so she pushed it a lot. Also I have friends in older grades that had done it and they really loved it so that’s how I found out about it.

So what types of classes does the IB Diploma Program require you to take? Like do you have to take English, Math?

Well you have to take a class, from their six categories. You have your math your sciences your English, global language. And you have to take a class from each. You have to do 3 higher level and 3 standard level. So for me I’m doing IB English higher level IB Economics higher level IB Theatre higher level.

How much more difficult would you say the courses are than regular courses?

It’s definitely more different, they expect a lot more out of you. It’s a college level course so it’s like college work. The workload is pretty strenuous. You have a lot of homework. But I think it’s worth it because then when you go to college you’re definitely going to be ready for the workload there.

You said the workload was strenuous. How would you describe your own work ethic?

You definitely have to have really good time management skills. You can’t be the type of person who doesn’t do their homework because you’re not going to do well, obviously. You kind of have to go above and beyond.

I’ve heard that with the IB diploma sometimes you can actually skip your freshman year when going into a school. Was that something you took into consideration at all?

Definitely. I want to go to a good school and obviously good schools are very expensive. So if you can skip a year obviously that would be very beneficial…If you really want to go to a liberal arts college IB is definitely the way to go. If you want to go for more of a mathematical-sciencey college it’s probably more AP. I’ve always wanted to go to a liberal arts college so IB is just kind of where I was naturally directed.

Do you ever wish to change anything about the IB Diploma program? I know you’re only a junior, but still is there anything you wish beforehand you could morph about it at all?

Some people complain, I know, about the testing, I haven’t taken any of the testing obviously yet but for AP it’s a lot more straightforward, like multiple-choice tests. For IB you basically have to write commentaries, which is a lot of times a lot more difficult. Now they say the good thing is that for AP you just have one-day one test, which determines if you get the credit. But for IB it’s like you get, you take different tests and it kind of averages out so you have more opportunities if you’re having a bad day to retake the test, well not retake it, but take a different one and do better so it’s a lot more opportunities but I will say I am nervous about the amount of writing, I think that’s going to be really hard and I wouldn’t mind a few more multiple choice questions (laughs).

Going along with that, would you recommend this program to others? Also, what type of student would you recommend this program to?

I definitely would recommend this program to others. The kind of student who I think would enjoy this is a person who is more interested in a more international education. AP is directed a lot more toward the U.S. And for me, I’m a lot more interested in what’s going on in other countries as well and how that affects the whole world so basically, the whole point of IB is for students in the U.S. to understand worldly aspects rather than just things that are going on in the U.S. so someone who is maybe interested in doing international studies which is something that I’m really interested in and I think I’ll definitely benefit from doing IB.

This has been very insightful. Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Just that for any freshmen or sophomores who are considering it, I want to say talk to your counselor and see if it’s right for you and if you think it is definitely go for it. Don’t be scared because in the end it’s going to benefit you.