It’s that time of the year again – sometime after Halloween and before the end of the year, schools open their admissions campaigns. Parents of upcoming 1st graders, 6th graders and 9th graders and the legitimately nervous parents of 3-year-olds starting school for the first time (Go class of 2039!) are all looking for the best school for their children.

What’s a parent to do?

Focus today on 9th graders in Strasbourg who are hesitating between the IB (International Baccalaureate IBDP)and the French international (BFI) diplomas :


(Full disclosure– I am the head of International School Strasbourg that is seeking to offer the IB diploma. Three of my 6 completely bilingual children are happy and successful laureates of the French Bac, 2 are happy and successful laureates of the IB diploma and my youngest will finish her IB diploma this year.)


Visiting the websites above, you will find specific information about the contours of each diploma. As an informed parent, I found that asking myself the following questions helped me make the best diploma choice for each of my children :


Diploma recognition : Universities are free to fix entrance conditions for applicants that vary depending on which diploma potential students have earned. Take some time to look at entrance requirements at your child’s dream university and a couple of local and international options. What are their requirements for each diploma? Do they recognize the new French diploma? What courses or options do they require?

The high school experience : The best diploma for your child is certainly the one that showcases their performance and students perform best when they are in an atmosphere that suits them. Do the way teachers talk to and treat students correspond to your child’s needs? Are schedules respectful of students’ rhythms– when does a typical day start and end? Does the school’s level of competitiveness between students allow them to flourish? Are classes big enough to encourage social interaction but not so big as to prevent individualized attention?

Learning style : Some students need more structure and some thrive when given more freedom.  Is the amount of individual responsibility required by the diploma you are considering appropriate for your child? How much studying does the program require? How does the way of working in high school prepare you child, with their specificities, for the rigors of university life?

Language(s)of instruction : For completely bilingual students, the question of how much English students are exposed to is immaterial. The French international diploma meets the French requirement that more than half of instruction time must be in French, but other classes offer good exposure to English and students will not “lose”their English language skills in 2 years. For students whose dominant language is not French, the question is essential. Will you child be able to show their best performance on exams taken in French?

Price: The international French diploma is a national diploma and therefore free of charge. The International Baccalaureate is only offered in fees-based schools. Can your family or your employer support the cost of the International Baccalaureate diploma? Do you have a good reason to allocate resources to high school education?


There is no one-size-fits-all diploma as each of our children have different needs, but we are lucky in Strasbourg to be able to choose between the French Bac, the European Baccalaureate and the IB diploma –there is certainly one that is a good fit for your child!