Laura Lechner participated in the International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma program at Wausau East High School in Wausau, WI before earning her BA in theater at the University of Minnesota and then an AS in film at MCTC. She told the Daily Planet about her experience with IB.
For students choosing a high school or planning ahead for their college career, Minnesota schools offer options for accelerated learning that not only look good on a college application, but also can earn college credit. In this series, we looked at two dual credit options — Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate. (Post Secondary Enrollment Options or PSEO and College in the Schools are two other options.) The articles in this series compare the AP and IB on the basis of cost, rigor, requirements, and student experiences. For all the articles, see Starting college in high school.
You participated in the IB diploma program at Wausau East High School in Wausau, WI. Are you glad you did IB? What are the advantages of the program?
Laura Lechner: Looking back, I am very glad that I was an IB scholar. I think had I not been in the program, high school would have been much too boring. Compared (in general) to the non-IB coursework that I experienced, the IB classes challenged me and allowed me to expand my thinking. In particular, the Theory of Knowledge class (taken both junior and senior year of the program – the only class you were in with only your full diploma candidate peers) exposed me as a teenager to string theory, the beauty of mathematics, and writers and thinkers whose work continues to influence me today. In addition, each diploma candidate is required to write an extended essay, which at 4,000 words was definitely the longest and most involved piece of writing I had done to date. I wrote something (probably totally crazy) that involved the Weimar Republic and the work of Andy Warhol, but it felt like a major accomplishment, and one that I am still proud of to date.
Did you get college credit?
LL: After receiving my IB diploma, I entered the University of Minnesota with 28 college credits. Actually, compared to the rigorousness of my high school experience, I would say a lot of my college coursework seemed . . . well . . . easy by comparison. The academic expectations of the IB program were much were challenging than the majority of my university classes.
How diverse was the program?
LL: My high school class had approximately 250 students – out of that number, there were seven IB diploma candidates. In terms of diversity, the majority of the students were either white or Southeast Asian.