As a sophomore, I realize that the next two years of high school are important. Thanks to my teachers, who never miss a day in mentioning that we MUST go to college, I'm feeling the pressure.
Do I have good enough grades? Do I do enough extracurricular activities? Everything I do now affects my college resume.
And then I heard about the IB program.
IB stands for International Baccalaureate. It is a special high school diploma that students from age 16 to 19 can earn by taking advanced classes and doing extracurricular activities.
"IB was founded in order to create an international educational foundation that would provide rigorous academic standards and promote international understanding," says Heather Gerrard, coordinator of the program at Ogden High School.
In other words, it's hard. College-level hard.
But Gerrard goes on to explain, "Colleges and universities worldwide recognize that the IB diploma indicates that a student has participated in a wide range of social, athletic and creative activities."
Colleges WORLDWIDE. In order to get the diploma, you need to pass six tests in six different subjects, like biology and math, and a foreign language, for example.
A good IB student, according to Gerrard, "is willing to work hard at his/her studies and future. They should be able to manage several demanding classes simultaneously, have a capacity for thinking critically and creatively, and an international understanding and genuine concern for others."
Obviously, there's going to be a lot of homework, so a student needs to be motivated.
Despite the homework, Shaundra Johnstun, a junior at Ogden High and a member of the IB program, says "I have been able to participate in many different extracurricular activities such as marching band, the swim team and the musical."
While you're involved in the program, you participate in 150 hours of "creative, action and service" activities. If you participate in sports, every hour you're playing in a game could count as part of your 150 hours. Also, doing service projects or participating in a school play would count. This earns you your extracurricular activities that colleges are always looking to find.
There are lots of benefits for doing the IB program. For one, you could apply to colleges worldwide and be considered by them, because they know that the IB program taught you to have an international understanding.
Even if you don't want to apply out of the country, Gerrard says, "Students graduating with an IB diploma have higher acceptance rates at colleges of choice ... and receive various scholarship opportunities."
Also, if you graduate with your IB diploma, it could earn you almost two years of college credits, depending on the college.
"IB teaches me the skills I need to be able to be truly successful in college, such as good study skills, planning your time wisely, how to communicate with administrators, and it helps me really dedicate myself to learning," Johnstun says.
The program can also help you become more independent, because, as Johnstun explains, "No one else can do the work for me, I have to put forth the work and effort."
So what could be a better way to get all of your extracurriculars wrapped up and earn yourself a good reputation for colleges to consider? Which is why I'll be participating in IB next year. I feel like I'm motivated enough to focus on the homework, and I really like the idea of being able to go to college anywhere in the world.
So while I know that I will still be feeling the pressure while I'm doing this program, I also know that down the road I'll feel better about college when I'm filling out my resumes.
Olivia Andrus is a sophomore at Ogden High School. She enjoys traveling, playing the piano and king-sized Kit-Kats. Email her at email@example.com.