The path to success: how to succeed at university

Choosing which university to study at, and just the application process itself, can be stressful. ICS Zurich looks at the IB diploma and the head start it gives school-leavers going on to further education.

The path to success: how to succeed at university
Every year, thousands of school–leavers apply for places at universities around the world. The application process is stressful, but once students have received a place, what can give them the edge in their studies? What are the qualities and attributes students need to succeed at university and beyond in the working world? The Inter-Community School Zurich (ICS) looks at the benefits of studying the IB diploma.The University Admissions Officers Report (2016), which is published annually by the International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO), confirms the IB Diploma’s place is the pre-eminent curriculum for providing students with university–ready skills and attributes, and is a rigorous intellectual foundation for post–secondary study.

University admissions report findings

The authors of the report interviewed a total of 101 university admissions officers from the UK and the US asking them to rate A Levels, the IB Diploma Programme (DP) and BTEC against each other.The admissions officers also identified a number of attributes they look for in student applications. The most important were:
  • Evidence of a passion for a chosen course 

  • Good written English 

  • Evidence of a positive attitude 
towards study 

  • Evidence of an ability to think and 
work independently 

  • Ability to persevere and complete tasks 


Preparation for university

The report found that in the UK and US there is a near total agreement that the IB Diploma is the best qualification to prepare students to thrive at university compared to A levels and BTECs. It also found that the diploma is the programme most able to encourage independent inquiry among students when compared to other systems.The IB Diploma also equips students with other attributes identified as vital to a student’s success. These include inter–cultural competencies fostered through the Diploma’s commitment to second language learning, and the ability to persevere and complete tasks, and cope with the stress of study.
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These latter attributes are fostered throughout the diploma, but they achieve their sharpest focus in the challenge of the Extended Essay, an independent, university- level research task. This task requires discipline, focus and perseverance, and gives students the intellectual and writing skills required to cope with the rigorous demands of a university education.For an international school like ICS – an inclusive school where all of the students were admitted to the IB Diploma exams in 2016 – the report’s results confirm that it is providing a world-class education which equips students with the essential skills and attributes required to achieve their potential in the post-secondary world.

About the Inter-Community School Zurich (ICS)

The Inter-Community School Zurich (ICS) is the longest-established international school in the Zurich area.A private coeducational day school established in 1960, it provides a world-class international education for students aged three to 18.The school welcomes applications from prospective students throughout the year. Contact if you have questions or would like to visit the school’s campus.
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