Similar to Advanced Placement classes, the International Baccalaureate (IB) program gives high school students a chance to take university-level courses to earn college credit. Asa Scott, Chloe Shively (BS ’20) and Morgan Wilson all came to The University of Tulsa in large part because of the shared values TU has with IB and the opportunities they were afforded through IB course credit.
IB is comprised of a core curriculum and six subject groups. The core includes theory of knowledge, an extended essay, and creativity, activity, service (CAS). The subject groups include literature, language acquisition, individuals and societies, sciences, mathematics and the arts. Like TU, IB is dedicated to a global perspective and a commitment to humanity, which were major draws for Scott.
In CAS, students are required to participate in a range of experiences during a project of their choosing. The service project involves purposeful activities, personal challenge, thoughtful consideration and reflection on outcomes. “These values are the epitome of TU students who are not only involved in their studies but also with community service, clubs and other associations,” Scott said.
During his college search, admissions counselor Hannah Smith (BA ‘16) told Scott about the fantastic opportunities there are for IB students at TU. Smith explained that many IB students can study a unique combination of subjects because of the credits they receive from the program. Scott is studying political science and has an interest in biochemistry, so that was an important factor in his college decision. “TU not only provides a high-quality education, but it has allowed me to follow my interests efficiently,” Scott said. He was able to attend higher–level classes more quickly, start peer tutoring right away and qualify for priority housing because he arrived with enough credit hours to qualify as a sophomore.
TU is a natural fit for IB students looking at smaller universities that have a strong liberal arts base and a global focus, Smith says. “IB students come from a background where it’s cool to care about your studies and about others,” Smith explained. The graduation rate for IB students at TU is around 30% higher than the university wide graduation rate, which Smith attributes to shared values including work ethic, time management skills, critical thinking and analysis.
Smith mentions that many schools only give credit for higher–level IB classes or for receiving the full IB diploma, which is not the case at TU. “As an IB graduate myself, that is definitely an added incentive,” Smith said. Students receive credit if they attain the diploma, but there is also credit for the individual classes taken. For Shively, this college credit made all the difference in the world.
Partway through college, Shively realized that biology and pre–med were not her passion. “I discovered I was drawn to the medical field because of the people and that I cared more for the emotional and mental wellbeing of others,” Shively said. The IB credits carried to TU gave her the flexibility to change majors and still graduate in four years. Shively is now pursuing a child life specialty, which centers on working with kids in hospital settings.
TU was not originally high on Shively’s radar when looking at colleges, but her college counselor encouraged her to apply because the application is free for IB students. Shively was a University Ambassador until she graduated this spring and loves telling her story of choosing TU. “When the admissions office told me I was going to have 33 credit hours for IB, I was blown away. Other universities were only giving me half that amount. I realized TU valued the work I had put into my education,“ Shively said.
Other incoming students like Shively often consider the opportunities and freedom that college credits provide, but Wilson also found that IB prepared her well for life at TU. Because IB’s curriculum has a global perspective and broad knowledge base in combination with encouraging both personal and academic achievement, this coincided well with TU’s programs focused on students’ individual character and scholarship.
Choosing IB was a difficult decision for Wilson in high school because she knew the curriculum would be challenging. Now, along with double majoring in finance and computer information systems, Wilson is in the Global Scholars and Honors Programs, both of which require extra classes. However, Wilson is prepared for the rigors of TU because of the IB program. “Having to write a 4,000-word essay in high school helped me know how to research for papers in college,” Wilson said.
Wilson is excited to start her senior year this fall and plans to attend law school after graduation. “I love TU. Everyone on campus fosters a welcoming environment that is helping me accomplish more in four years than I ever thought possible.”