The difference between an International Baccalaureate (IB) or Advanced Placement (AP) program


An Interview with Jeri Williar, Director of College Placement and Counseling at Admiral Farragut Academy. Williar earned her bachelor’s in Sociology from Eastern Illinois University and her master’s in Counselor Education from the University of North Florida. She has over thirty years of experience in college admissions, college registration, high school college placement, and guidance counseling.


Often times I am asked, “what type of program should I find for my child? Should they be in an IB program? Should they be in an AP program? Should they be in a Dual Enrollment program? What should I do?” And I respond that it’s an individual decision and you have to look at your child.

For example, parents have heard of and frequently inquire about the IB program. It is a prestigious program but I tell parents there is a place for it and there are students that belong in that program. See, with IB you have to be good at every academic area to do well and you can’t pick and choose your subject areas. A lot of students will apply to IB programs at high schools, but the first two years are pre-IB, not IB. I always tell parents to ask the high school about how many students are accepted as freshmen and how many students stay in the program as juniors. There’s usually a large difference in the numbers because in the first two years the students start to realize, “okay, I’m strong in math and science, but I’m not strong in English so I am struggling in the program” or vice versa. You have to be strong in all areas to be competitive in regard to earning the IB Diploma.

But what Farragut is doing is offering the AP Capstone Diploma, which is, in essence, similar – yet different. You get to pick and choose what AP courses you want to take so if the student’s strength isn’t in math, then the student can take AP Psychology or AP History. It gives students the ability to pick the courses that they are strong in.

Anytime parents are looking at these types of courses, they have to look at their student and they have to make sure that the student is ready for the courses they are enrolled in. The worst thing that can happen is that you’ve put your student in courses that they’re not ready for and they don’t do well, and it ultimately hurts the student’s self-esteem, their transcript, and their course progression. I guide all of our students to think about themselves and what they like. When students enjoy the coursework they will often succeed.