IB vs. AP
September 29, 2006
When I worked in admissions I was often asked the question whether there is a difference between how colleges treat the IB (International Baccalaureate) curriculum and AP (Advanced Placement) courses.
The short answer: no.
Most students are familiar with at least one of these options for advanced coursework and have one available at their high school. I’ve written before about the importance of taking advantage of upper level courses, but some students still worry that their school’s advanced courses are not as competitive as other schools’.
The IB curriculum and AP courses are weighed equally. To colleges, choosing one of these advanced programs does not represent anything more specific than a demonstrated effort to challenge yourself. Most schools do not offer both IB and AP so you are not expected to take them simultaneously. And if your school does not offer either, but you have taken courses at a local community college, fear not, that is respected as well. The bottom line is that colleges want to see that you are challenging yourself. That can come in the form of an IB curriculum, AP coursework, college level classes, summer school courses to supplement your education etc.
Furthermore, at each college, an admissions officer is responsible for your school and has, as part of his or her job, the responsibility of familiarizing him or herself with your school’s curriculum (meaning also, that you do not need to explain your school’s course offerings to the college).
They get it. It’s their job.
Your job is to worry less about what admissions officers are thinking and more about the work you are doing. You only have so much time and energy, use it for things that matter.