From IB to Rochester

Over these past few weeks, I had the chance to swing through Europe and visit seven United World Colleges. Their locations defy simplicity in planning travel. To get to them, you must navigate from the remote mountains of Armenia, be ferried across fjords in Norway, and trek to castles on the coast of Wales. While each campus differs in its own way, they all share in common two things: a population of students from at least 90 different countries, and an intense two-year program of study and activities, the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Program.

The questions I answered most frequently addressed why students completing the IB Diploma might find the University of Rochester appealing. If you have the opportunity to pursue IB coursework, you should know that Rochester values the spirit of rigorous intellectual exploration and global perspective students gain from completing the IB Diploma. But more importantly, if you love the IB way of learning, why would Rochester be the place for you to continue that? Here are a few reasons I think IB students love Rochester (even those of you who do not consider your school’s location to be as exotic or remote as the ones I recently visited):

Global diversity and diversity in thought

You are in a classroom explaining your thoughts on the topic of the day, when one of your peers upsets your perfectly laid-out train of thought by voicing an opinion or problem which had not occurred to you. Sound familiar? IB students quickly get used to challenging others and being challenged during discussions. This happens when you bring together students from a wide variety of backgrounds, with myriad beliefs and experiences. Rochester brings together students from over 110 different countries, so you will find differing opinions on everything from current events and politics to that engineering project you need to figure out. But Rochester is also a welcoming environment; you can still have lunch together with that person who just disagreed with you.

UWC Atlantic College in Wales

UWC Atlantic College in Wales


Rigorous but creative academics

Internal Assessment, Theory of Knowledge, Creativity and Service, Extended Essay. Now throw in some college applications on top of all that in your senior year. The work and activities you find interesting keep on coming, and after a while, you don’t know what you would do with your time otherwise. Students at Rochester love to learn and our professors challenge students to keep up the pace. The cool thing is that Rochester’s curriculum allows unprecedented liberty in exploring and combining different areas without spending time on a core of classes you are not quite interested in. For example, you could focus on math, international relations, or music anywhere—but here, you can pursue all three. Explore how math manifests itself in music, how music helped influence diplomatic relations, or how political forces have driven the development of computer encryption.

Community engagement

You are immediately integrated into the University community from your first year with our residential experience. Rochester is just the right size for you to meet someone new every day without feeling lost among a sea of other students. You can contribute your own talents and culture and learn from others’ through over 275 student organizations and activities on campus.

During my travels, many students asked me about opportunities to serve the surrounding community off campus. With a million people living in the Rochester area, there are countless ways to help build the communities living in the city around you, including education, charity, mentoring, supporting refugees, and event management.

Study abroad

Many IB students have become addicted to travel and make it a part of their learning experience. Others are itching for the opportunity to take that first flight beyond the borders of their home country. Over a third of Rochester students take advantage of study abroad opportunities. Whether your study abroad program is related to your major or you want it to be a short exodus to get language immersion or do research, you will find options to study on every continent except Antarctica. Any scholarships or financial aid you get also roll over to help cover your study abroad experience within Rochester’s portfolio of partnerships.

UWC Robert Bosch College in Freiburg, Germany

UWC Robert Bosch College in Freiburg, Germany


The IB Scholarship

This requires little explanation. To recognize your achievements both inside and outside the classroom, applicants who complete the full IB Diploma are considered for Rochester’s IB Scholarship.

The list could go on, but these are some of the things I was asked most about in the past few weeks. An entirely separate blog post could be written on the opportunities for undergraduate research. If you are still unsure if Rochester has something you are looking for, then ask us! Explore our website, email your admissions counselor, or reach out to the department or that professor you’re interested in to see what their programs are like. Even better, catch us when we are on the road if we come to your area. Check out our off-campus events.

About the author

Isthier Chaudhury

I am the Associate Director of International Admissions in our office, recruiting primarily in China and parts of Long Island. I graduated from Rochester in 2011, majoring in both chemical engineering and Chinese. I hope to answer questions we get from students all around the world, while also sharing a few of my own travel adventures!

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