It’s that time of year again, and course selection is upon us. It seems like just yesterday that I myself was signing up for my senior year classes. But, for a lot of students, course selection isn’t merely picking what classes you’d like to take next year – it is much more than that. Your selections can determine your entire outlook on a whole year of your life; will your next year be a fun, easy one where homework is sparse and sleep is plentiful, or will it consist of lots of late nights and learning? Only time – and your course selections – will tell.
A lot of the stress of course selection is caused by one crucial subject: the IB Diploma. Sophomores try to decide whether or not it’s for them, and juniors try to balance their inevitably tough schedule with the available IB classes. A big part of these decisions rests on knowing exactly what a future in IB might entail, and questions like: what students need to do to succeed, how hard do they have to work, and what not to do. And even though the future might look taxing, confusing, and even bleak, it’s important to know that people have done this before you, having faced the same dilemmas, taken the same classes, and made the same decisions. And they seem to be on track to making it out of BHS alive . . . so I’ve decided to give some advice on surviving IB.
Time management is key. And I’m sure you’ve heard this a thousand times before, but it’s true: done right, an IB Diploma schedule can include just as much sleep as any other schedule. Crazy, right? It just involves buckling down and getting the work done quickly (Bedford Public Library is open until 8:30 on weekdays!) and NOT spending three hours on Instagram after school. Trust me, I’ve learned from experience. This is an important skill to have, and seniors Katie Lewis and Veronica Gikas seem to agree, as they advise underclassmen to “use their time wisely” and to “avoid procrastinating”.
Going off that last point, it’s clear that no matter how many times it’s said, students are never going to stop procrastinating. Veronica herself even admits that “no one listens to that.” However, I think it’s important to note that future IB Diploma students should prepare for lots of late nights – even the most effective and diligent workers can’t escape this cruel reality. Befriend coffee, and know that sometimes it might be inevitable that you’ll be up until the wee hours of the morning.
Next: prioritizing. This is SO important. Katie says “don’t stress the small stuff, but know what is important to stress about.” For example, knowing when to start an assignment is crucial. If it’s just a worksheet or something small, you could pound it out in one night, but if it’s your Works in Translation paper or your Historical Investigation, you might want to start much earlier so you can produce your best possible work.
But lastly, it’s important to remember that if you’re in this tough program, you might as well make the most of it. The Extended Essay, a 4,000 word paper, sounds horrible, but in reality, you have the opportunity to write about whatever you want – and “skip” school to research it (AKA field trips). If you have to learn, might as well choose what you’re interested in, right? And the CAS project: if you have to do community service, involve your friends and organize a FUN event. Also, you get to pick when you want to do it, so pick a time that’s not stressful, like summertime, or during the not-as-busy parts of junior year, as senior Aish Deva suggests. Going along with that, if you’re already doing the work, put in the full effort. “Actually put in the work. Sure, you can get away with putting in partial effort, but everything is easier when you actually use full effort,” senior Emma Guerette says. And it’s true: skimming a history packet or doing half your math worksheet isn’t going to benefit you in the future. If you signed up to do this work, make sure you get it done the right way!
It’s no secret that the IB Diploma’s not the easiest thing in the world, and deciding to do it or not is a difficult decision. However, with the advice of myself and my peers who have already suffered through a lot of it, I’m confident that you all can make educated decisions in this coming week regarding your courses in the 2019-2020 school year!