For 103 incoming juniors at Eagle Rock High School, myself included, the first day of school on Aug. 14 will be the start of a rigorous, two-year academic journey known as the “International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme,” or IBDP.
Begun in 1968 in Switzerland, IBDP stresses intercultural understanding, inquiry and analysis through immersion in English language and literature, acquisition of a second language and classes in math, science, social studies and the arts. There is also a community service requirement to help ensure that students have some real-world experience alongside their studies.
Currently, Eagle Rock High is one of only three schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District that offers IBDP. The others are Woodrow Wilson High School in El Sereno and Downtown Magnets High School. Fairfax High School in the Fairfax District near West Hollywood and Bell High School in Bell are awaiting authorization to start offering the IBDP.
Students who complete the program, which is in use in 75 countries, earn a notation on their transcripts that is recognized globally as a sign of high potential for success in college.
That leg up in college admissions is a big reason to undertake the IBDP. The program’s international recognition sets it apart from the Advanced Placement courses that are also valued by college admissions officers. And with the fierce competition for admission to good schools, including (or especially) good schools in California, students want all the options and advantages they can get.
“The program offers a means by which students can stand out academically,” explained Chris Oswald, the coordinator of the IBDP at Eagle Rock High, in an email. “Universities covet IBDP students because it is a cohesive and complete program that not only challenges students academically but forces them to be more reflective and analytical thinkers, while developing their writing and communication skills, as well as putting into practice the knowledge and expertise they’ve developed over the program’s two-year framework.”
I’m in, and so are 102 of my classmates. Onward to graduation in 2020 and after that, college.
Lani Tunzi starts the 11th grade this month at Eagle Rock High School.