Self-driven, motivated students are encouraged to apply to Sandia High School’s International Baccalaureate program before the beginning of the 2023-24 school year.
Applications can be found on Sandia’s website for both the IB and the IB Preparatory programs. Sandia is one of five schools in the state that offers the program and is the only public school in New Mexico where students can earn an IB diploma.
Rita Martinez, a math teacher at Sandia and IB assistant coordinator, said students in the program receive an educational experience similar to those at private schools, except there is no tuition fee. In addition, colleges and universities look highly upon students pursuing an IB diploma while in high school.
“IB diploma program students are 21% more likely to be admitted into 10 of the most prestigious universities, including Harvard, Princeton, Yale and Stanford,” Martinez said. “It’s because they know at the universities what type of student it is that completes the diploma program, and so just that in itself when you’re applying to colleges — you obviously haven’t earned an International Baccalaureate diploma at that time; you’re just pursuing that diploma — but they know what it is about the types of students who engage in that program and the types of learning that happens there, so it does help set you apart in that college application process.”
Another benefit of being in the program is students have the potential to earn college credits while earning both an IB and New Mexico high school diploma. Some universities even offer special scholarships for students who complete the IB program. Derek Maestas, IB coordinator and math teacher at Sandia, said universities will look at the IB diploma in different ways depending on their requirements, but that the University of New Mexico is very receptive to the program.
“UNM has really helped us there,” Maestas said, adding that the admissions’ director met with the school five years ago to provide more opportunities for IB students seeking to attend UNM. “They revamped their whole credit and right now our students who do take courses or get the diploma, they’re walking away with at least 25, 30 credit hours at UNM.”
Maestas said students can earn up to 18 college credit hours in Spanish and 12 credit hours in mathematics through the IB program. “It’s just different things like that that UNM has readjusted in the last five years.”
Ten reasons why the IB program is ideal for college prep
During a Thursday evening presentation inside Sandia’s library, Martinez showed slides giving 10 reasons why the IB program is ideal for students preparing to attend university or college:
- It offers academic depth and breadth
- Colleges value students with meaningful experiences beyond the classroom
- It’s a qualification recognized by universities around the world
- It creates independent learners and strong writers
- It cultivates an international mindset
- It assesses more than examination techniques
- IB students have proven time management skills
- The IB encourages critical thinking
- Subjects aren’t taught in isolation
- It creates 10 more reasons by helping IB learners to be reflective, open-minded, risk-takers, caring, balanced, principled, knowledgeable, inquirers, communicators and thinkers.
According to a pamphlet handed out at Thursday’s presentation, “The aim of all IB programmes is to develop internationally-minded people who, recognising their common humanity and shared guardianship of the planet help to create a better and more peaceful world.”
Program capacity and requirements
Martinez said Sandia can have up to 50 juniors and 50 seniors in the IB program at a time, but the school typically sees around 25-30 students at each grade level in the program. The diploma program doesn’t officially begin until the junior year, but freshmen and sophomores in the IB Preparatory program receive additional resources to help them succeed if they decide to pursue an IB diploma.
Martinez said the IB program is “a rigorous college preparatory type of program” that helps students develop critical thinking, research and writing skills.
“Instead of just academics and rigorous academics for students or challenging that, they have a part that is their core where they’re really looking to develop the student in ways that is outside of just the academic learning that they do,” Martinez said.
The core of the IB diploma program consists of three elements geared toward broadening the educational experience and challenging students to apply their knowledge and skils. Those three elements are creativity, activity and service; theory of knowledge; and extended essay.
Students in the IB and IB Preparatory programs are required be involved in a school club and actively participate in community service projects. One of the course requirements to receive the diploma is to take a foreign language for four years. Sandia currently offers English and French, but students can receive foreign language credits from the Career Enrichment Center and other accredited programs.
The language requirement is part of six course groups offered through the diploma program. The other groups include studies in language and literature, individuals and societies, experimental sciences, mathematics and the arts and electives.
Students who live outside of Sandia’s school zone boundaries must submit a transfer request form through Albuquerque Public Schools’ Student Service Center. Transfer requests can be filled out in person or on APS’ website in January when the transfer window opens.