The International Baccalaureate (IB) programme is all about developing inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people. It is known for its rigorous and holistic education. Top schools around the globe are choosing to teach within the IB framework because of all the benefits the programme provides their students.
Villanova Preparatory School is one of them. It is the only boarding school in California that offers the IB Diploma Programme. Here, students get to choose between taking individual courses in depth or challenging themselves to complete the full diploma. The latter option enables students to apply for and study at universities all over the world, often with advanced credit. While Villanova was authorised as an IB World School in 2015, its rich history dates back much further.
Founded in 1924 by the Augustinian friars in sunny Southern California’s Ojai Valley, this college-preparatory academy is guided by the core values of unity, truth, and love. With the aim of providing a well-rounded education, the school helps students grow and develop academically, spiritually, morally, physically, and personally. Headmaster Brian Grisin notes that the school is inspired by St. Thomas of Villanova, a 16th-century Augustinian scholar and bishop in Spain. He is said to have “modelled genuine faith, academic scholarship, humble leadership, and dedication to serving those in need.”
These qualities have ensured that Villanova students reach their full potential, academic and otherwise. “We are proud to have a stellar academic programme with dedicated, well-qualified teachers who support students inside and outside the classroom,” says Grisin.
The school’s excellence is not limited to academics. Villanova has stellar athletic and arts programmes. The former is guided by the ideal of “Pursuing Victory with Honour”. At the school, athletics instil the value of competition and the belief that faith and community must come first. High-level, yet inclusive, Villanova has a “no cut” policy for sports teams — everyone who wants to play will play, allowing students of varying skill levels to enjoy the comradery and joy found in participating in team sports. The school’s fine arts department features drama, music, film, and art, allowing students to explore human expression, be it through visual or performance art. These are some of the subjects included in the IB Diploma Programme.
The list of IB courses at Villanova is extensive. It includes Math Analysis and Approaches, Spanish, Latin, French, Biology, Environmental Systems and Societies, History of the Americas, English Language and Literature, Psychology, Visual Arts, and Music. Over the two-year programme, students pursuing the full IB diploma are required to pursue a total of six subjects — three at standard level and three at higher level. There are three additional core requirements: Theory of Knowledge (TOK) which helps students reflect critically on diverse ways of knowing and on areas of knowledge; the Extended Essay (EE), an independent, self-directed piece of 4,000-word research; and Creativity, Activity and Service (CAS) hours, that provide opportunities for self-determination and collaboration with others.
The college-level courses in the Diploma Programme give students a leg-up before entering university, especially as they learn and master integral skills such as research, writing, critical thinking and time management. It’s an attractive option for those who want to attend college outside the US as well, as the programme is highly regarded globally.
The holistic programme is certainly not purely academic, and so it offers students the chance to positively impact the world, develop a global mindset, and have a deeper respect and understanding for people, cultures and ecological issues. In another study, DP students were found to have higher levels of global-mindedness across all six countries studied. The benefits of these skills and lessons do not end at university but see students throughout their lives.
Amongst other IB World Schools, Villanova stands out for its people. “The highlight of the Villanova experience is our warm and welcoming community that truly supports and cares for one another,” says Grisin. “We are blessed by our uniquely diverse community of students who represent many different countries and cultures from around the world.”
To join Villanova Preparatory School, click here to apply now.