Dean Burdick is the primary enrollment adviser to the University of Rochester’s President, Board, Provost and Deans on matters related to campus internationalization, inclusion, diversity and equity. He has transformed and grown the campus to one of the nation’s most complex and diverse private research universities, spending many weeks each year abroad with a particularly successful focus on creating opportunities for undergraduate students coming to North America from Africa.
Many students debate between taking dual enrollment classes or the IB. We asked Dean Burdick, “Why do IB if you could earn credit as part of a dual enrollment program?” Here’s what he had to say:
Given apprehensions about college costs, dual credit can appear to make sense. Older high school students who’ve been doing well in good high school classes are often prepared to succeed in first-year college courses or their equivalent. It’s a path that feels more certain than IB.
There are two typical, great answers to this “why IB?” question:
First, there’s prestige: while most colleges grant some credit for college courses taken in high school, none of them consider those equivalent to IB. In fact, the more selective a college’s admission is, the more value they will assign to IB as evidence of learning, commitment, and effort.
For some students and families, that alone is enough. I think it’s the weaker answer, however!
What matters more is the actual IB rigor. IB helps students not just prepare for the beginning of their college career but for the end. It’s the most secure foundation available for successful college graduation. Students don’t just learn a lot of information in IB, they develop stamina. Completing the wide-ranging requirements of the IBDP demands much more effort than getting through any single ‘college-level’ course or preparing for any single exam, and that’s true even if students take those ‘single’ bites multiple times.
There’s maybe a more fundamentally valuable way to say this, too: do IB because it hurts.
Even for very capable students, choosing to do IB guarantees sacrifices that dual credit won’t. With its unique way of granting credit for all three things—coursework, out-of-course work and exams, doing IB forces you to continually improve your study habits and follow-through, and to develop both original thinking and independent projects. What’s not easy to see before IB begins, but makes sense long after, is that those incredible expectations and requirements are the point, much more than the actual diploma or the information they acquire while seeking it. By attempting IB students learn better how they can get through college and beyond, even if they struggle with the actual exams and don’t earn all the credit.
In contrast, there are sacrifices students would maybe have to make taking dual enrollment courses too, but those are less helpful for college. For instance, some dual credit students will commute from high school to a college campus every day. OK, fighting traffic and searching for parking can be parts of adult life, but they aren’t likely the parts that we want our children to experience most. Second, leaving peers and high school activities behind can have consequences. I’ve found that students who may have experienced some minor (normal) sense of isolation and alienation as teenagers can make those feelings worse by ‘escaping’ to a college campus full of adults. At least that’s a question worth considering in the open and well in advance.
Choose IB because doing so causes you the right kind of trouble.