If you are reading this article, chances are that you are considering the IB program. However, what are your perceptions on IB, and are they correct? If you are not so sure, don’t worry because we have you covered. Here are some common misconceptions on the IB versus the actual reality of being in the program.
It is only for the top 1% of students.
Rumor: IB is extremely exclusive and their students are the top 1% of all students intellectually. Although both hard work and intelligence are factors in determining your grades, “average” students will not survive because it takes natural gifts to excel.
Reality: False. You are not required to be in the top tier academically to succeed as an IB student. In fact, the majority of my class (inclusive of myself) were not straight A students before applying to IB. What we had, though, was an initiative to learn which is what got us through the program. It is true that students will struggle, but this may be because they are still trying to figure out which study techniques work best for them, or they do not have the best grasp on the workload just yet among other things. While intellect may give you a slight edge over your peers, it is nothing without motivation and consistency.
Sleep, Social or Study
Rumor: IB students have to choose between one of the three S’s: sleep, social life or study. It is impossible to have all three, no matter how smart and industrious you are.
Reality: Somewhat true. There will definitely be times wherein you have to sacrifice one or the other due to external circumstances. It is almost an inevitability, especially during Hell month(s). However, while many students (including myself) fell into this trap, the argument that IB students have to stick with one at any given moment is a pure misconception. It is possible, with discipline and determination, to achieve all three on most days. This misconception is a particularly dangerous one as many students resign themselves to giving up as the idea of being well-rounded in this aspect seems impossible. In Year 1, I struggled with this as I fully gave up on having a sleep schedule or a social life because I had to study 24/7. However, it also taught me how unsustainable that lifestyle was so I tried my hardest to improve. Although there were some slips along the road, I was able to have all three on top of applying to college and starting new hobbies.
You vs. the world
Rumor: What does the I in IB stand for? International? Intense? Isolation. IB students are separated from the rest of their peers because of an ultra-competitive environment and a busy work schedule.
Reality: So-so. Coming into the program, we were all naturally competitive so there was interpersonal hostility. However, as we understood our individual struggles, we realized that we could not survive IB if we were splintered. Gradually, we started sharing notes and studying tips to help each other succeed and in the end, we all did. In other words, everyone is trying to claim their future and striving towards that shared goal is all that IB students often care about.
Only for far-flyers
Rumor: IB is only good for students who want to study abroad. It is useless for those who want to study in local colleges.
Reality: Nope. In fact, most of my graduating batch studied in local colleges. IB is not exclusive for students who are set on studying abroad because the program is not focused on giving you an edge in college applications despite what many may say. Instead, IB is actually about enhancing your studying skills and work ethic to a level where you will be able to thrive in university. No matter where you go to university and no matter what you want to do in the future, these will be valuable assets to help you succeed.
IB is the crossroad
Rumor: IB is the definitive educational crossroad. Your future in college and beyond depends on whether you make it or break it in IB.
Reality: Not a chance. To current IB students, it may seem like it but IB does not determine your future. Ask any past IB student, and they will tell you not to worry: IB is merely a stage in your educational career that will nudge you in a certain direction. As one of these past IB students, I spent weeks on end attempting to strategize how to maximize my grades because I thought failure in IB would spell out failure for the rest of my life. However, being in university has made me realize that IB is small fry, a transitory stage that will be one of the many vast opportunities that will form your future.
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- Albert’s take on the 4 myths of the IBDP
- Micaela’s tips on how to select your subjects