With high school seniors starting to be accepted into colleges, now is the optimal time for them to consider which school is right for them. This means they need to consider whether or not their college of choice has a curriculum that will challenge them and help them grow based on their previous high school course work.

Unfortunately, the college readiness gap still remains, meaning that many students in the U.S. enter college unprepared for this higher level of academia.  In fact, according to the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, every year in the U.S., nearly 60 percent of first-year college students discover that, despite being fully eligible to attend college, they are not ready for postsecondary studies. While the U.S. has seen recent growth in getting students into college, there is still a gap in providing students with the knowledge and skills needed to complete certificates or degrees. This lack of readiness leads to lower college graduation rates.

The International School of Indiana (ISI), a school of nearly 600 students from 3-years old to high school, has a solution for closing the gap: a curriculum centered in global-mindedness. ISI is the only school in Indiana that offers all enrolled students access to certified full-continuum International Baccalaureate (IB) programming and language immersion opportunities in three languages – Spanish, French and Mandarin. 

Why IB?

According to a report by the Education Policy Improvement Center, the IB curriculum is considered the world’s leading academic program for college readiness. Although it is a rigorous program, an IB education results in personal and academic development for students and, upon successful completion, a globally recognized diploma, according to the Community for Accredited Online Schools. Students in the IB program are already taking college-level courses in high school, making the transition from high school to college much smoother.

At ISI, all students are enrolled in the IB program, starting with 3-year-old students in the IB Primary Years Program, to the IB Middle Years Program for grades 6-10, and all the way through to the IB Diploma Program for students in grade 11 and 12. Oftentimes, an IB curriculum is only offered to high-achieving students, but at ISI, every single student receives the positive impact of an IB education, and, as a result, the school enjoys an all-time 100 percent college acceptance rate for its high school seniors, dating back to the first graduating class in 2004.

One of the biggest reasons why students in an IB program are more prepared for college is because the standards of the curriculum are centered in critical thinking and research. Students aren’t just learning the curriculum; they’re learning the reasoning behind the curriculum and learning “how” to learn.

Many of the skills gained through an IB education, like critical thinking and collaboration skills, are directly transferable to succeeding in college and, eventually, in a career. Because of the IB program’s inquiry-based format and its critical thinking model, high school students are given the tools to creatively analyze and problem solve any issue the world may be facing when they become professionals. 

Benefits behind language immersion

ISI is made up of 54 different nationalities and offers full language immersion courses in French, Spanish, and Mandarin, meaning those students who complete the full immersion program go on to graduate with multilingual fluency. For the 70 percent of the ISI student body that is Indiana natives, this global exposure increases students’ understanding of other cultures and makes them more aware of their own culture, preparing students for a diverse college experience.

According to the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, students who learn a foreign language score higher on standardized tests, achieve enhanced reading abilities and increased linguistic awareness, and they even experience higher academic performance at the college level.

In order to increase college attainment and retention, it’s important to look to comprehensive programs like the IB and language immersion aspects in high school curriculum. When students are exposed to a powerfully cultural, linguistic and analytical learning experience in high school, they are better prepared for the challenges faced in college. This college proficiency could lead to more students remaining in college, earning a college degree, and eventually, entering the workforce.

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