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Info on IB: A guide to the International Baccalaureate Programme at CFIS

Teenager??  How is your baby already a teenager? More than that, how is your baby already a teenager who is starting to plan for their future? As tough a pill as that may be to swallow, it’s just as likely that you are also extremely proud your baby bird will soon fly the nest.

Ensuring now that your child is ready for those post-secondary adventures will make for a much more successful transition period when the time comes.

At CFIS, one way we help adequately prepare our students for life after high school and beyond is by offering the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IB DP), a curriculum framework for students in the last two years of high school. Students graduating with the IB diploma are able to study at universities all around the world, often with advanced credit.

What does it all mean? In its most basic form IB, like a French immersion education, opens doors. Many of our students report that their involvement with the IB has given them the tools needed to succeed in post-secondary studies.

In particular, IB students comment on their sense of preparedness, self-confidence, research skills and ability to manage their time. But, even more importantly, they develop an understanding of the world around them and their responsibility to it.

Are you thinking of enrolling your child into IB? Does the conversation of a more intensive workload leave both you and your child with questions? Below you’ll find what, we hope, should be the answers you need when it comes to talking about IB with your teenager.

What does IB entail?

In the Diploma Programme (DP), a child will study six subjects (three at standard level and three at a higher level) over two years and complete three additional requirements: Theory of Knowledge (TOK), the Extended Essay and reflect on a number of different experiences and projects for CAS - creativity, activity, and service -  tasks outside of the classroom.


What is Theory of Knowledge (TOK)?

TOK is an interdisciplinary course designed to help students question and understand how they know what they know. Studying how individuals from various disciplines view the world in order to develop their own ways of thinking, TOK seeks to help students make sense of school and the world.


What is Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS)?

CAS is a pragmatic learning component of the Diploma Programme. Beginning in the summer between grades 10 and 11, students complete a variety of extracurricular, community service and athletic options to fulfill this requirement for a period of 18 months. CAS can be taken as a separate course by any CFIS student. We highly recommend that all students complete CAS as it can be beneficial for future employment opportunities and post-secondary applications.


Is IB the same for every student?

Short answer, No. IB is designed with a specific framework and has course requirements, but there are many options available based on your child’s individual interests and goals.   


Will my child be singled out or put into special classes?

No. On average, 100% of our students work towards a minimum of one IB certificate. 85% of our students earn 3 or more IB certificates, and about 25% work towards an IB diploma. The FLA 30-1 course offered already meets all IB requirements with only three additional assessment. In addition, students’ extracurricular work and participation in athletics can work towards CAS requirements. 


This course load seems very heavy. Will my child have time for a life?

Absolutely! 100 % of our IB students are actively involved in extracurricular activities, with 72% involved in the school musical and/or school sports. Students are often pleasantly surprised to notice that the workload in their IB courses is quite similar to the typical high school workload. At CFIS, the IB experience is tailored to meet your child’s needs and interests. You can earn an IB Diploma or certificates in various courses. It’s really their choice.


Do students enjoy IB?

Our students tell us that they do enjoy their IB experience. Citing the enriching in-depth discussions, the learning activities, their teachers, the small class sizes and the international focus as reasons for their satisfaction.


Current CFIS IB students suggest:

Take IB courses that interest you

Take IB courses that you wish to explore more deeply

Realize that full IB is not as overwhelming as you may think

Take IB because it may benefit you.


Why do students take IB?

At CFIS, the thoroughness of our academic program is a natural fit for IB. Adding IB to your CFIS high school experience can open more doors in preparation for post-secondary. IB students develop even stronger time management, research and writing skills.


How do colleges and universities view the Diploma Programme?

The DP is internationally recognized as representing one of the highest standards in university preparatory education. More than 1,000 colleges and universities in North America have recognition policies for admissions, advanced standing, college credit and scholarships.

A list of colleges and universities that grant credit, scholarships and/or advanced standing for DP diplomas and certificates is available at


Is the IB DP at CFIS considered a “gifted” program?

The IB does not control how schools designate their Diploma Programme. At CFIS, students choose to participate in the full Diploma Programme via the CFIS IB DP admission application which must be filled out by both parents and the student. A meeting between the IB coordinator, counselor and family will take place to discuss the application and suitability for the student. The DP is a robust course of study for motivated students. That said, prior academic success is less an indicator of the ability to earn the diploma than are a student’s determination to do their best, be organized in order to complete the work while leading a full, balanced life, and a solid commitment to learning in and beyond the classroom.