Marketing Your IB Students and Program

Candace Reim (@careim2) is the IB Diploma Administrator at Dobbs Ferry High School in Westchester County. She is currently attending the IB Conference of the Americas in Washington D.C. with DFHS IB Diploma Coordinator Marion Halberg (@meghalberg). Both will be guest blogging throughout the conference.

While attending #IBDC2014 this week, I had the opportunity to attend a breakout session on “Marketing Your IB Students and Program.” This session provided a powerful and interesting look at how to market and promote IB students and the IB Program to colleges, universities, and beyond. College admission officers vary in experience and knowledge of the various programs that high schools offer. It is the school’s responsibility to provide the context in which admissions officers view each student’s credentials. The more information about the programs and academic coursework that a high school can provide to admissions officers, the better that they are able to evaluate students.

Of the many tips and strategies presented during the session, the following are the top three that schools must address immediately in order to better market students and the school as a whole:

1. The School Profile:  Simply stated, the purpose of the school profile is to tell the story of the school. A typical school profile provides a thumbnail sketch of the academic and co-curricular programs of a school and typically includes SAT scores, college acceptance rates, and an overview of the courses offered. However, in many cases the profile does not include all of the information that could be helpful for evaluating students. When admissions counselors evaluate a student from an IB school, the following information should appear on the profile:

  • When was the IB instituted in the school and why?
  • How many students (particularly in grade 12) participate in the program?
  • What percentage of the students are pursuing the full diploma?
  • What is the historical performance data for IB exams?
  • What was the IB grade distribution in the previous year?
  • Which classes offered at HL?
  • Are students allowed to take more than 3 HL courses?

2. The High School Transcript: The transcript is the most important piece of data for college admissions officers.  As a result, it is vitally important that all of the critical information is prominently displayed and the transcript paints the best picture of the student. IB students take an extremely rigorous and challenging course load. Additionally, IB diploma candidates complete a 4000 word extended essay, take a course in TOK (Theory of Knowledge), and complete 150 hours in CAS (Creativity, Action, and Service). All of this work should be credited on the transcript. Other types information that is important to display on the transcript is as follows:

  • Course levels and course types – IB HL, IB SL, AP, Online, Dual Enrollment (all of these courses identify and distinguish a student’s course load)
  • Grade weighting and whether IB courses add point values to GPA/rank
  • Whether a student is a full diploma candidate (add a sticker!)
  • A student’s EE topic or area of focus
  • The CAS hours completed
  • An IB watermark

3. College Admissions Letters: The purpose of a letter is to paint “the picture” of a student beyond the numbers that are presented on the transcript. IB students have extraordinary experiences both in their courses and in the larger school community that distinguish them from their peers. Given that, it is vitally important that counselors and staff discuss these experiences and contributions in their letters. Training staff on what to include in letters of recommendations is critically important to help market IB students. Other tips for letters of recommendation are as follows:

  • Use special letterhead to denote your school as an IB world school.
  • Stamp letters with an IB insignia.
  • Create a school-wide “Brag Sheet” that students fill out. Ask students specific questions about their experiences in the IB program.
  • Have the IB Coordinator work with teachers so that they may properly describe the IB program in their letter.
  • Have the IB Coordinator write a letters of recommendations for IB Diploma Candidates.

Have another idea for marketing your students and programs? Please comment below!



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