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Trending: Holistic admissions and how they can help IB students shine

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.

The face of college admissions is rapidly changing. With more and more students taking highly rigorous course-work and participating in varied extra-curricular/service activities, it is becoming increasingly difficult to differentiate ability on college applications by simply looking at a student on paper. However, according to a recent US News and World Report article, many colleges are taking steps to make the admissions process more holistic and inclusive to allow students to be showcased in a not so linear like manner; thereby proving very advantageous to our IB students who already work extremely well with this model!

In this post, I wanted to go through each emerging trend and explore ways in which IB students can maximize on things they are doing without feeling the burden of completing “extra work.” Oftentimes while students are in the thick of the IB program they overlook the normalcy of “everyday IB life” and how they can be used as great self marketing tool.

1.Tasks that highlight skills that are crucial in college: Colleges are now asking students to answer questions from a wide range of academic disciplines and complete multiple essays, both of which mirror the essence of the IB program nicely. Here, IB students can capitalize even more on this by using the interdisciplinary model of a TOK course to answer a biology question with consideration of historical perspective.

2.Application portfolios that mold themselves to the uniqueness of students: Some admissions offices are no longer requiring the “standard” application documents but instead are allowing students to submit portfolios of work. At its core, the IB program is built on a constructivist growth model and values the development/change of a student’s abilities over time. With this new practice, a student could submit his/her group 4 project including drafts of lab reports, tried and failed experiments and the final product. Together, these samples allow colleges to understand how an IB student is reflective and critical of their work.

trial and error

3.Videos that expand communication options: Although strong writing skills are necessary in any college environment, some colleges are acknowledging the importance of exhibiting verbal communication abilities as well. IB students have taken a language acquisition course which could be used to demonstrate conversational strengths and also show that they are attentive to cultural differences that may exist on a prospective campus.

These new practices are extremely exciting and it is my hope that more colleges make these options available for applicants. It is clear that IB students have what colleges are looking for. Let’s help them understand that they have some great opportunities to truly show what they can do!


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