How to Survive the IB Diploma Program

Elizabeth Bolin, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

If you are considering being a part of the IB Diploma program, here are some pieces of advice you should know…

A. It will be less hard than you are expecting. We, as students have had to adjust to higher standards of learning every single year. In eighth grade, we were all told to prepare ourselves for High School (capital H, capital S) because that’s when things got real. There was a pressure to perform and an expectation of harder classes. Yes, we all struggled with ICP at times, but was it really so bad? Of course not.

I remember the day before I started my junior year, and the palpable fear I felt when realizing that “IB” was about to become my world. I’m here to tell you, that you are more equipped than you know to handle an accelerated workload. You have been practicing since you began talking! It’s like training for a sport: give a little bit more each day, each year, and you will reap the benefits.

B. The Extended Essay: If you are like me, procrastination is your best friend and worst enemy. I’m not here to tell you not to procrastinate your essay; it’s inevitable that you will to some extent. However, there are some things you can do to prevent future suffering. First, don’t think of your essay as a (roughly) 15-page paper. Think of it as three four page papers. A four-page paper can be written in a single night if necessary.

Second, start writing as soon as you can. The longer you spend falling down the rabbit hole of endless (usually useless) research, the longer it will take you to pull yourself on track. It’s hard to tell exactly what research is applicable until you are in the writing process.

Third, at least attempt to start your essay in the summer before your senior year. As soon as you start writing, it will begin to get easier and easier to keep writing. You may go into that summer with the intention to write the entire essay. If you can do that, good for you!  For the rest of us, try to write the introduction. Find your thesis statement. Make an outline. Do something, so you don’t feel overwhelmed when the craziness of school begins.

C. CAS: this component of the diploma is very easy to forget, which is the most dangerous aspect of it. You are definitely doing enough already to fulfill your CAS requirement, but what matters is keeping track of it. It’s as simple as keeping a note in your phone of all the activities you do and when you do them. That’s all it takes.

D. The IB Diploma Program will prepare you for college. That’s a guarantee. It may seem slightly pointless right now, especially if your college doesn’t take IB credits, but the program benefits you far beyond that. The program is designed to make you an independent and open-minded thinker. It will open your eyes in so many ways, and it allows you to pursue your own interests. TOK is a class unlike any other, and I honestly wish it was required of all students because of the ways it changed me and my classmates. The program is challenging, but in the end you will have an advantage in college and the real world.

The IB Diploma Program is not for everyone, but I urge everyone to consider it.