The IB Diploma programme may seem like the most daunting journey to take in high school. But with the right working habits and priorities, it does not have to be as stressful as everyone makes it out to be. In order to prepare sophomores in taking the next step towards IB and quell some of their worries, here are some juniors who were willing to impart some of their wisdom on how to make IB as stress-free as possible!
It is completely normal to have doubts and worries about the rigorous academics and expectations of IB. Sophomore Wendy O-Charoenrat expresses that while she is “excited to be learning courses at a level that is more in-depth”, she is still worried that her “IB courses will be a lot more difficult than my classes this year, as the workload seems much more imposing.”
First, it is extremely important to take classes you are actually interested in, since you will be studying them extensively for two straight years. Tee Monsereenusorn (11) advises that “picking the ones that you will enjoy is extremely important to your grades and mental wellbeing. Don’t hesitate to talk to your counselor as well about changing your courses!” Imogen Alexander (11) is an example of a student who has taken courses that she generally cares about. Because of this, she explains that “personally, this is what has made my first year in IB so enjoyable. You learn about things that are interesting to you, which creates a drive to want to learn more, and actually want to do your homework. It stops feeling like actual school work and more like something you want to learn.”
Time management and workload seems to be another source of nervousness from the sophomores. Wendy reveals, “combined with having extracurricular activities and clubs, time-management is a huge worry for me next year.” Craig Dawe (10) is also worried about “long term projects like the Extended Essay and IA’s” as well as “having to deal with an increased workload with with poor habits currently in place.”
In response, Maggie Chao (11) emphasizes that you should not procrastinate! Everything will pile onto itself, and it creates a lot of unnecessary stress. She also suggests to “study even if you don’t have a test. There is a lot of content, so stay on top of it.” Darin Sumetanon (11) also says, “there are typically tests or quizzes every week and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and wanting to give up. Study a little bit everyday, it will be so worth it.”
Because of the immense course load of IB, it is inevitable to have minor slips in grades here and there. But, it is something everyone is bound to experience. BB Jirupphaba (11) recommends, “don’t let one bad grade brings you down. At the end of the day, it’s just another test and it will pass. So don’t get too stressed.”
Another requirement of the IB is to complete a CAS project and experiences by the end of your senior year. Craig Dawe conveys that he is nervous about “CAS projects and hours in general”, while Jonathan also explains that his greatest concerns are CAS related.
While CAS seems like something entirely new, in reality, it is not that different from what you are already doing now. Most students at ISB are already involved in a huge range of service clubs and sports. You have also most likely already organized a few events at school for a club you are in. CAS projects and hours are really no different from that — it just means you have to record these activities in Managebac and write a reflection about it. It may be tempting to put off completing your CAS project until senior year, but that is a huge mistake. Darin urges, “finish your CAS project in junior year. It saves you a lot of stress later on! On top of that, do a lot of service, be as involved as possible.”
In terms of just surviving IB in general, here are some tips to ensure that you are not overly stressed because you really do not have to be. Imogen highlights the importance of maintaining a balanced lifestyle. “Make sure you are not spending all your time strictly on school work. Join an after school activity, and hang out with your friends occasionally. This is what I call ‘productive procrastination’. It maintains your mental stability and ensures you have fun occasionally. So, maybe set aside an hour or two a day to do something you enjoy.
Tee shares similar sentiments on the importance of sports. “Amidst the stress of school and IB, sports can be a great distraction from our mundane lives and it’s really useful to have something to look forward to everyday. While it does take up a large chunk of time, it also helps you become a much more productive person.”
Furthermore, while you have probably heard this advice thousands of times, sleep is extremely important! Darin states, “get good sleep. You will feel a lot more awake throughout the course of the day! And, it can help you focus and concentrate better in your actual classes.” Tee reiterates, “sleep or you’ll regret it the next morning.”
And finally, do not forget that you are a teenager in high school! BB explains that “when you feel like there is too much going on and you’re on the verge of a mental break down, pause whatever you’re doing.
Take a break and then come back to it later.” Maggie also urges, “don’t forget to have fun — it’s easy to get lost in studying and school but don’t forget that you are a high school kid that deserves to live your life as well.”