Students discuss academic pressure at Lincoln


Keira Saavedra

94 students from the class of 2023 are currently completing a full IB diploma.

In Lincoln’s class of 2023, 94 current juniors are part of the full International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma programme, a curriculum that requires students to take at least three HL (higher level) and three SL (standard level) courses. Lincoln’s IB coordinator Kim Bliss said that, on average, 20% of a graduating class pursues the full IB route.

Senior Danica Leung said that the full IB program was marketed towards her since she was an eighth grader. 

“The first thing Lincoln does when they’re bragging about how good their school is, is show the amount of full IB students,” she said.

As stated on the Lincoln website, “The LHS IB programme is the largest in the state of Oregon, and we are particularly proud of the expertise of our teaching staff and of the diverse number of IB course offerings students may pursue.”

Leung has come to recognize the high prestige surrounding the diploma. She has noticed the different ways in which students who do full IB and students who don’t are accepted.

“It’s almost like there are two very different cultures at Lincoln, one which the administration explicitly accepts, and one which the administration kind of ignores [and leaves] to the side,” she said.

She admits that she joined the program because she assumed it was what “smart” students did.

“I think at Lincoln, there is very much a culture [surrounding full IB],” she said. “If you are smart, or if you are ‘talented and gifted,’ teachers expect you to do it.” 

 She decided to drop the full IB course this year to have more free time in her last year of high school. 

“[Even though I dropped it,] I definitely still feel pressure to do full IB. I have guilt from dropping out of it. I still feel like I could have handled it; I’m smart enough, I could have done it. All my friends are doing it,” she said.

Leung said that her participation in the full IB program came largely from implied pressures.

“[There] was never someone telling me ‘you have to do full IB,’ but I don’t think anyone considered the fact that I might not do it.” she said.

Junior Henry Alexander, however, did not experience the same pressure.

“A lot of my teachers definitely encouraged me to take certain IB classes because they thought it was the best option, but [they also] realize that full IB is a choice for the individual, and […] they support that,” Alexander said.

All students noted that the high academic course load resulted in less free time for other activities and to focus on mental health.

“[Full IB] takes away a lot of your time for something that may or may not actually be worth it,” junior Skylark Zhang said.

 Senior Chloe McIntosh previously attended a school in Vietnam that required students to complete a full IB diploma. Watching peers pursue the diploma, she noticed how difficult it was on mental health.

“It was never manageable, but people still did it,” she said. “Your mental health will always end up suffering.”

Alexander said that, for him, having outside commitments depends on good time management.

“If you utilize your time to the best of your ability, you should be totally able to have a full on life outside of IB homework,” he said.

Students in the IB program also recognized the positives, like the time management skills Alexander has acquired as a full IB student. Additionally, he appreciates the variety of classes that IB has to offer.

“The classes I’m taking in IB are really interesting. A lot of them provoke really good conversations. I’m grateful for that because you’re in a class with a lot of other people who really want to learn and delve into the topics,” he said.

McIntosh noted that, while the competitiveness of IB was “toxic” at her old school, it motivated her.

“When you’re in a competitive atmosphere, it always pushes you to be your best,” she said.

Leung has realized that, while full IB was an academic course load she could have chosen to take her senior year, she is grateful to have more free time to pursue other interests and passions.

“Full IB [can be] a good option, but it’s not necessarily the life I want[ed] to make myself live,” she said.