IB Experiences IB Overview

Learning to value the IB: Thoughts from a grad student

While I was doing the IB, I remember that I complained CONSTANTLY about it. At first, I was eager and excited about taking the program. But because of the pandemic and the increasing workload, I just wanted to finish it as quickly as possible. Many times, I tried to get interested in what I was learning, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do so. I believe this is the case for many students, which is completely natural. Don’t get me wrong: the workload may sometimes get the best of us. However, now, being in college, with the opportunities that I’m seeing, I think it is really important to realize how even the IB core learning can prove to be very beneficial at a university level. Yes, there may be aspects you can’t control (how a teacher gives a class, the subjects offered at your IB school, etc.). But learning to appreciate and embrace the general philosophy of the IB is something that I think everyone should remember. Especially while facing the challenges of the course.

Agents of change

As this world’s countries have increasingly intertwined, regardless of which university you attend, more international opportunities to your local educational context arrive. That’s where the experience of leading projects and creative development comes in handy. With climate change problems constantly increasing, people from around the world are seeking youth that have had impact on their communities and those who dedicate part of their time solving problems and/or helping others.

In my case, if it were not for CAS, I wouldn’t be able to apply to specific scholarships and programs that require evidence of leading meaningful social projects. Many people go through high school without involving themselves in these kinds of activities, so value your opportunities!

Of course, I recommend you to generally avoid being motivated only by how service benefits you. Instead, try to think about the meaningful change you are doing for others. However, when you really stress out, or think that CAS is useless, it is useful to remember that you are not only helping your future, but also your community’s!

A clearer picture

Something I really appreciate from TOK is the opportunity to question myself. Along with being kind of aware of the reality surrounding me. Not everyone experiences it to the same extent, but the essence of the course changes your life perspective. When you reflect first on your context, your past, your environment, and many more, you inevitably start to use your insights. These guide your life to something you consider meaningful for both yourself and the people around you.

         I’ve seen that this, in college, translates to this such as more meaningful projects related to your career or major. Or to more time spent on things that matter to you, leading to even on more meaningful relationships. It is easy to get lost on what college offers you. And having a reflective background can help you keep your focus on what’s important to you. So, value your chance to see the world from a more reflective point of view (and the people that help you achieve it)!

Academic organization

There may be things in college that can depend highly on your academic grades (such as the ability to apply to specific extracurricular programs, keeping scholarships, etc.). And people that didn’t face demanding coursework in high school tend to struggle adapting to the new workload. However, that does not happen as much with IBDP graduates. As an IB student, you will likely have already developed systems in which to organize your time and activities. Hence have little to no difficulty (depending on the major, subjects taken in the IB, the specific college, etc.) adapting. Also, you may be more fit than others to take on a heavier workload that distinguishes you from others. Even if that is not the case, you will be able to more quickly enjoy the other opportunities that your college may offer you, since the workload is not a significant worry. And remember, even though the coursework may be very challenging.  Have in mind that you’ll be more than equipped to face future college assignments.

So, what do you think?

I’d like you to reflect, in any chance you have, on how the IB has influenced your current identity. For me, it has been the best intellectual decision I have made in my entire life. I don’t know if you are reading this article in Year 1, or you have had your fair share of the IB struggles. But please bear in mind the chance you have gotten. Avoid fixating on what you can’t control, and instead focus on making the best of this phase of your life. At least that’s what I tried to do. Remember, you got this! 

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