Marie Vivas is the IB Americas University Relations Manager. She has overall responsibility for university recognition in the Americas region, working closely with admissions professionals counseling university bound students.
This post is in response to a question from our IB Counselors, Coordinators and University Relations group on Facebook.
How can we get more U.S. colleges and universities to grant credit for SL classes? Is it hopeless?
This is an issue that requires a layered answer so please bear with me as I try to sort it out.
First and simplest answer is that many universities do give SL credit – Notable examples are UT Austin (within the context of the Diploma). Actually, this is true for the public institutions in Texas. The public institutions in Florida also give SL credits – no restrictions on Diploma vs. individual course. The University of Nebraska Lincoln and Omaha, Kent State in Ohio have SL friendly policies and then there are lots of great liberal arts colleges such as Drew University, Wittenberg University, Salve Regina University, Marist College, Hawaii Pacific University and Colorado College. And, in the State of Virginia, VCU, JMU and College of William and Mary all have SL credit for select courses. These are just some examples I can come up with spontaneously. I am sure there are many others out there. We do try to get the word out in our bi-monthly Good News Letter.
That said, it is true that many universities only grant credit or advanced standing for Higher Level courses. This is true for most highly selective institutions and many others as well. This can be unfair to our students who have achieved excellent results in very rigorous Standard Level courses and for that reason, here in the IB Americas Office, we have been working hard to educate our university partners on the content, rigor and depth of our SL courses. This work starts with individual visits to universities to train admissions officers and work with faculty and other staff on creating fair and attractive policies. We also present at professional conferences such as NACAC and regional ACAC’s, AACRAO and regional CRAO’s and other venues where we can reach our higher education colleagues.
Our Global Recognition team has developed a number of excellent resources for universities who are looking to enhance their policies and attract IB students. Many US colleges and universities approach us because they want to connect with more IB students. We work with them and we share the resources available on the IB recognition resources and document library.
There are also a variety of grassroots efforts by IB World School Associations to increase the number of SL friendly policies. They work closely with my office to organize recognition events and to lobby state legislatures to create laws designed to recognize the hard work of IB students in their public institutions. Additionally, there are very positive efforts to empower students to self-advocate on this issue. At last year’s mid-Atlantic Counselor Breakfast, here in the Bethesda Office, Dan Coast from Mount Vernon High School, gave a presentation entitled Empowering Students to Self-Advocate for College Credit Recognition.
Please keep in mind that in the United States, there is no central body that governs university admissions and credit policies. While that makes our jobs more complicated in terms of influencing policy, it is also the reason why the US higher education landscape offers such a rich and diverse array of options to students from all walks of life. That means that the work of university recognition is frequently done institution by institution, legislature by legislature. This is why we need a multi-faceted approach. Our team has made this a front burner issue, the IB World School Associations are working closely with us. Individual Coordinators and Counselors have always done their share, and now, they have us pushing with them. Finally, students have a strong voice on campuses and we want to empower them as well.
Ultimately, I do wonder about making college credit the centerpiece of why students should do the IB. Shouldn’t we focus instead on how well prepared students are to meet the demands of a rigorous academic program in college? There is considerable research on how much more successful IB students are because they have strong academic skills, higher engagement and a passion for learning. This research is available within the Programme Impact Studies on ibo.org