The International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) is a course that is both balanced and academically challenging, preparing young scholars aged 16-19 for success far beyond the walls of their chosen university.

Unlike many other college prep programmes, the IBDP has managed to cross country borders, gaining recognition from some of the world’s leading universities – but what is it about the programme that has earned it such respect among the world’s top higher education institutions?

Carlsbad International School (CIS) is Europe’s newest premium boarding school. With an exceptional offering of tailored academic programmes, and a campus located in the Czech Republic’s beautiful countryside, Carlsbad is the ideal place to inspire young minds; all the while preparing them for a smooth and successful transition into the local, and global, community through a comprehensive IBDP curriculum.

In order to better understand the IB’s prominent reputation, we asked Thomas Keen, Associate Director of Admissions at Carlsbad International School, if he could offer us an insight:

What is so great about studying the International Baccalaureate, and what are the advantages of studying such a prestigious programme?

As an IB Diploma holder, there are several skills I can attribute to my studies during the Diploma Programme, such as long term planning and implementation, in-depth analysis, a general preparedness for university, and arguably the most important of them all, innate inquisitiveness. The DP specializes in instilling the habit of questioning what we think we know, instead of generally accepting all information presented. This creates a lens of discern with which to view the world that carries into adulthood.

Would you say it’s a particularly demanding programme of study?

The IB invokes a responsibility in its pupils to deal with large, long-term projects and types of analysis not previously encountered in their educational career. For these reasons, the IB has a reputation of prestige, and it is therefore considered very challenging. There is an important distinction to be made here, because the IB is indeed challenging, but it is not a programme that is meant to exclude. It is not a programme that is meant to weed out academically stronger students from weaker ones. It is an inclusive programme that seeks to give all students in its participant schools a demanding, well-rounded experience that prepares them for university and beyond.

The IB is a programme focused on global thinking and making connections not only between subjects, but also between academia and current real world issues.

Who applies to study the Diploma Programme at Carlsbad?

We have students applying from all corners of the world and that is shown in the diversity of our student body. Beyond the Czech Republic, our students represent 24 nationalities from five continents, and we hope to add many more.

We are an international community and a great place to garner global understanding.

In total, there are 4,373 schools across the world that offer the IB programme – so what makes so many young people choose to study it at Carlsbad?

As a School, our mission is to help each student reach their full potential. In order to achieve our mission, we have teachers available during evening study hall hours so students can choose, or even be summoned, to receive extra help.

Beyond the classroom, CIS is located on a beautiful riverside campus within walking distance of Karlovy Vary’s Old Town. Trails lead right from campus into surrounding hills, perfect for hiking and mountain biking.

Karlovy Vary itself is a spa town founded back in the 14th century, and it’s famous for its natural hot springs. Today, it is one of the most popular health and wellness centers in Europe, but it also boasts stadia and other sports facilities such as multiple golf courses, climbing walls, and a horse race track. Karlovy Vary also hosts great events such as the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, Christmas Market, marathon, cross-country ski race and the  international triathlon.

What else does Carlsbad offer its IB students?

CIS students express a range of interests and passions in sport, visual arts, music and technology. It’s a place where students of all inclinations can come and practice their passions. For such a small school we offer an incredible amount of activities every season (30+). Since we are a small school, and Karlovy has a wide range of available facilities, we are able to accommodate a wide range of student activities and tailor special programmes for students who have particular desires. This can range from athletes who seek to play on elite local teams, to music lessons or anything else they might wish to undertake. This is one of the main things, I think, that makes Carlsbad so popular.

Tell us about the opportunities and enrichment available for overseas students studying the IBDP at Carlsbad.

CIS has a lot to offer all of its students. Besides a strong EAL (English as an Additional Language) programme and the IB Diploma, we offer the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award, a reputed, voluntary outdoor education programme.

In tandem with such programmes, we take advantage of our location in the heart of Europe by sending all our students on bi-annual cultural trips. These trips are part of our curriculum here, and offer students the opportunity to experience a city and learn about its heritage. While on these trips, students are expected to keep journals and take in as much as possible so they can put together and present their graded trip projects once they return to campus. Students have the opportunity to visit cities such as Bratislava, Vienna, Split, Paris, London, Krakow, Barcelona, Athens and Berlin.

Moving away from home is a big step for any young person – especially when they leave for an entirely different country. So, what does Carlsbad do to make international students feel welcome and comfortable when they arrive in the School environment, and what does the School do to support them throughout the IB programme?

At CIS, all students take part in student orientation, which goes on for the four days between student arrival and the first day of class. During orientation, students take part in team-building exercises and activities, a tour of Karlovy Vary and a School barbeque. There are also grade and dorm specific meetings to learn about general expectations and life here at CIS, in and outside of the classroom.

Once the School year has begun, the student council is elected towards the end of the first semester. The student council allows for the discussion of School policy by the student body, and provides them a medium with which to communicate with the faculty.

We are a small, close-knit community that allows for heightened personal attention to all students, as well as a warm culture that ensures all are welcome and heard.

It seems that for students of Carlsbad International School, every day is built around opportunity; the opportunity to connect with their teachers and their peers, the opportunity to interact with the wider-world around them, and the opportunity to engage with their own academic potential.

The School’s innovative methods of communicating fact, theory and ideas lead to lasting knowledge and understanding of an increasingly complex and globalised world. Its location is both stimulating and inspiring, instilling all students with an appreciation of the great outdoors, and granting them beautiful memories that are part of what makes the Carlsbad experience so unique and exciting. It is for all these reasons that Carlsbad is considered the ideal School to study a programme as distinguished as the International Baccalaureate.

Find out more about studying the International Baccalaureate at Carlsbad International School via their website, and keep up to date with the school on Facebook and Twitter.

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