Rachelle Bernadel is the IB’s University Relations Administrator at the IB Global Centre in Bethesda, MD, USA. She is also an IB graduate of Parkdale High School in Riverdale, Maryland.
This past week I attended my first American Association of Collegiate Registrar and Admissions Officers (AACRAO) Conference in Baltimore, Maryland. Marie and I exhibited at this event. Over 100 admissions professionals attended the event and we enjoyed helping them learn best practices in creating IB policies for their students, and what they should expect when registering former IB students. The level of familiarity with the IB varied greatly. The IB website and the materials we shared (put some links to the policy docs and the guide for universities) were a great platform for us to provide insight into what can be, at times, a complex program to navigate. On the other hand, it was very encouraging to hear the positive feedback that many admissions representatives gave of IB students they had worked with and the added value they brought to campuses.
The conference was host to a variety of educational sessions ranging from how to interpret student enrollment patterns and the implications they have on the state of higher education, to what the role of peer mentoring is on campus and what an effective program looks like in practice. One of my favorite moments from AACRAO was when former Secretary of State Madeline Albright gave her closing plenary talk. She spoke about the changing role of higher education for students. She noted that an interdisciplinary approach to higher education is key, and students need to learn a combination of subjects like science, health policy, and economics in order to be prepared for the 21st century. Dr. Albright stressed that higher education has a vital role in shaping the future leaders and diplomats of the world. However, the only way of doing this is to emphasize holistic learning across disciplines in colleges and universities. When students are faced with the challenges of globalization, transforming economies and other innovative trends, she said that education cannot remain stagnant through these processes. Helping students understand our surrounding world fully and thoughtfully is accomplished by engaging with varying disciplines and understanding how to solve problems from different perspectives.
The points that Dr. Albright made really resonated with me because as an IB graduate I felt that after I left the program, I searched for opportunities at the university level to experience interdisciplinary learning again. I needed to maintain that cross subject learning style in order to truly maximize my college experience. Once on campus, after choosing a major, I took advantage of opportunities to take courses outside of my sociology field of study such as public health, economics and even a course in biology. One of the most valuable lessons that the IB taught me was that life does not exist in a box and although we all have specialties and areas of expertise, it is our duty to explore other fields in order to become a well versed citizen. As universities plan new majors and courses of study, they need to take an interdisciplinary approach, our society will thank them for it.