As China’s first International Baccalaureate (IB) World School, Nanjing International School is uniquely positioned to provide students with the experience and opportunities to make the most of what the IB offers. By completing the IB Diploma Programme (IBDP), our students are not only better positioned for acceptances into top universities worldwide, but more prepared to succeed once they begin their undergraduate studies.
Why does the IB offer students such an advantage, and how does it compare to other curriculum programs offered internationally?
Deputy Director of Learning at NIS, Mr. Kasson Bratton, believes that the answers start with why we chose to become an IB school in the first place: “I think it begins with what is the purpose of school and education.” Mr. Bratton explained that research undertaken by the World Economic Forum shows that the skill and mindsets valued by universities and employers include complex problem solving, critical thinking, cognitive flexibility, and international mindedness. “For us, the IB framework directly connects to those outcomes and cultivates them in our students. IB mindsets include being knowledgeable, being a thinker, and being an inquirer, but there's also the notion of being caring and balanced and open-minded. That combination is really mission-aligned with what we're trying to accomplish – and that's why NIS chooses to be an IB World School. And when you look at the foundational documents of our school way back in 1992, being an IB school is just part of our DNA.”
When it comes to how the IBDP compares to other programmes, such as the American Advanced Placement (AP), Mr. Bratton points out that the difference lies in the definition of true academic rigour. “You know, that's a term that's thrown around a lot. I think this is where the IB differentiates itself, because academic rigour goes beyond that basic level of recall to a level of creating and evaluating and analysing and applying. That really sits well with those things we talked about, the complex, problem solving, critical thinking, and creativity. The IB also includes co-curricular aspects, such as creativity, action, and service. It has core elements like the Extended Essay and Theory of Knowledge, which go beyond the standard and higher level courses a student might choose. In short, the DP is simply a more comprehensive programme.”
Every aspect of the IBDP better positions NIS student for enrolment into world-class universities. “Admissions offices for especially top tier universities are inundated with students that achieve top marks,” Mr. Bratton explained. “We know that admissions officers in universities like the IB Diploma because they know that it's a two-year course and that it requires true academic rigor. And they know about the co-curricular element and that adds distinction to a diploma graduate.”
For students seeking admission into university, thoughts inevitably turn to the value of the American AP versus the IB Diploma. Being an American programme, the AP would seem to be the clear choice. However, according to the International Baccalaureate Organization, in the United States, IB graduates are 21.4% more likely to be admitted into 10 of the country’s most prestigious universities, including Harvard, Princeton, Yale, and Stanford.
Mr. Bratton confirmed the notion that students taking the AP have an advantage is not necessarily the case, and further believes that beyond scholastic achievement, a school’s reputation and the quality of its graduates is also crucial. “One more component to consider is that the admissions officers also know the individual schools that students are applying from, and there is a recognition of schools like NIS that are well-established IB institutions with a track record of producing high quality graduates. So, it's not simply that we're an IB school, but the fact that our record speaks for itself.”
An acceptance letter is just the first step on a NIS student’s journey of higher education. Our IB programme also positions them for success in the university classroom. Just ask our alumni.
“There is definitely a sentiment when we talk to our alumni that they believe they are well equipped because they're prepared beyond only content knowledge,” said Mr. Bratton. “They have those skills and approaches to learning around self-management, communication, and critical thinking skills. The diploma itself, we believe, is the best preparation for university, the most rigorous preparation for university out there. We know that DP students are more likely to complete their degree. They're more likely to complete their degree in less time than the average student. We know that IBDP students are more active in campus life. And when we talk to universities, they say IB diploma students have superior research and time management skills, and their language skills are better.”
We know that NIS students consistently achieve well above the world averages, but we're also as proud of personal excellence in our students across the spectrum of achievement.
“So, while we do celebrate when our students achieve top marks,” Mr. Bratton explained, “we also celebrate students who earn IB diplomas at NIS that would not typically have access to that course of study at other schools. This is really a tribute to our teachers and our faculty for helping develop personal excellence, whether you're at the top end of academic achievement or whether pursuing an IB diploma is the achievement itself.”