HNMCS Prep versus IB & AP

Carrie Hughes-Grant News

As the world is changing faster than ever before, we have an opportunity to change with it. At HNMCS our high school programme puts girls at the centre of everything we do - it is not about the absence of boys but it is all about the presence of girls. Every subject is a girl's subject. We have small classes and personalised learning where we can pivot more easily and quickly to what the girls' needs are. We have incredible student life, leadership opportunities and many other co-curricular activities. As we are a grade 5-12 school, the girls are able to get involved with others at different ages and stages. Through our house programme and specialist teachers, girls are constantly exposed to many different teachers, teaching styles and learning styles. We have dedicated help through our Learning Enrichment Centre and our guidance department. We have a connection with UTM in both History and Science.

At HNMCS we believe that serving others is a key component to our core values. We have a mandatory 80+ and our girls often complete over 100. Serving others is not only a part of faith formation but also part of our complete well-rounded programme. Our girls can take courses in all areas of specialization, they have the best opportunities for critical thinking and application focused assessments with a focus on skills. We build our co-curriculars right into our day, which allows for involvement in a multitude of opportunities in creativity, athletics and service, and helps students build supplemental applications. We have a flex block programme that helps students balance workload, gain skills and knowledge, stay active and work with teachers in small groups to help ensure students have what they need to be successful here and beyond.

We have an incredible array of staff and faculty that work together with the girls to build community and be available as the girls navigate their way through student centered learning and self-advocacy - our role is to help them find success.

Research shows that parents want more for their children than a list of accomplishments and good grades: faith formation, smaller classes and student behaviour all matter. Our grade 12 Philosophy mirrors the expectations of the IB TOK course in many ways but makes ours specific to HNMCS (Felician history and unit). As well, HNMCS is a process/product based school: we have more programmes/opportunities, individualized attention, and the product, post secondary success, still is key. We are preparing our girls for a breadth of outcomes.

How does this all compare with the IB and AP programmes?

In the IB programme, you can only take up to two Math or two Science, not both and no more and only if group 6 - the arts- has been dropped. As it is an international curriculum, the courses are aimed for teaching to an internationally standardized test. There are two levels in which you can participate - the full programme which includes Standard and Higher level courses and the Core of the programme which is the Theory of Knowledge Course (TOK), Creativity, Action and Service (CAS) and the Extended Essay (EE) or students can chose to take just single courses, with no programme, mostly at the standard level. Diploma courses are very content heavy, have upwards of 4 hours of homework per night, and there is little to no flexibility to localise or individualise, as well many grade 11/12 students drop their activities to focus on academics. This does mean that IB schools have to work towards meeting provincial ministry standards, as the IB measures different outcomes. Although universities may reward high scores, why does anyone need to rush university? There are so many incredible opportunities and many students are actually taking 5 years to complete a degree to get the most and best out of their schooling. There is no pre-IB as many schools advertise, as the Middle Years Programme is developed for grades 6-10; however, there is a cost to the IB programme with exams fees on top of this.

As for the Advanced Placement (AP), these courses are also content heavy and come with multiple hours of homework each night. Although it does allow for specialisation as the girls can choose courses based on interest and universities may recognise higher marks, it is mostly important to US schools. University applications ask if the highest level of studies were taken and at HNMCS they can say yes. There is no personalisation, as the courses are set to teach to College Board exams, which come with a financial cost.

The choice remains yours, of course. We offer a great programme, academic and student life, that creates well-rounded girls with opportunities to excel in all areas. Come see what HNMCS has to offer.