IB students give their advice to underclassmen


As the school year progressed over the past month, juniors began to realize the huge jump from their sophomore year, in terms of a heavier workload, and how they need to focus on their studies to prepare themselves for college. Several students at the school are in the International Baccalaureate (IB) Programme and have yet to learn how they are going to manage so many components and requirements. 

The IB Programme was constructed to teach students through an approach that encourages critical thinking. The entire IB Programme differs from the partial route because a full IB candidate has to take all IB-level courses along with, a mandatory theory of knowledge class, a lengthy project completed throughout the two years of the programme, and an extended (4,000 word) essay. The creativity, activity and service (CAS) project was created to enrich student’s academic experience by completing a project with components of creativity, activity and service. 

Second-year IB students were interviewed to provide first-year IB diploma candidates (and other possible underclassmen) with tips and tricks from their senior counterparts (full and partial ones) on how to succeed in the rigorous program. 

Time management is a struggle for several students who are a part of the program as they juggle several college-level classes, the IB requirements, college applications and extracurricular activities. These factors can all become overwhelming and often lead to burnout, which is why the most helpful method to success in the program is organization and time management. 

“I prioritize the work in classes on the importance of the assignments being given and the leniency of the late work policies,” senior Rebbecca Estevao said. 

Many may be reluctant to do the IB Programme because they are afraid they will not have time for their extracurriculars. However, Estevao emphasized that sports force you to optimize time when completing assignments. 

“I did my [Creativity, Activity, Service] project before [the] summer,” Estevao said. “I was a basketball coach over the winter in February.” 

The full IB Programme has several requirements, including an extended essay and the CAS project. Completing the CAS project before the summer of your senior year, for example, is a great way to meet the IB requirements ahead of time and takes a huge load off of your senior year’s work. Including some of the interviewee’s CAS projects, some ideas for the project can be creating a podcast, blog, coaching a sports team or embarking on a mission abroad to help communities worldwide.  

Senior Estee Ruiz holds the same belief that completing IB requirements before your senior year is a method of decreasing stress. 

“Take time out of your summer to stay true to your IB deadlines,” Ruiz said. “My college counselor made me do my Common App essays and supplementals over the summer, so I don’t have that much to do other than actually putting my info into the Common App applications.”

Ruiz’s other methods of success for the IB Programme include getting a planner for organization, writing down key components of a class lesson to look back at for future exams, and allowing herself badly needed breaks. 

“I give myself breaks…I usually take a nap and then do 30 minutes of work before I go to practice, and then I come back and take another break, then maybe another 20 minutes,” Ruiz said. 

Estee’s last piece of advice is to utilize the resources given to you by the IB Programme staff, including the required Theory of Knowledge (TOK) class. 

“Last year’s TOK class was basically a study period,” Ruiz said. “The teachers have monthly meetings to discuss different things going on in the IB and what’s been going well.”

Partial IB senior Liam Mason has several methods that play into his success in the IB Programme, specifically ways to optimize work efficiency and accumulating a lack of procrastination. 

“Being given a certain amount of time to do an assignment sets you up for definite procrastination,” Mason said. “So sort of trick your mind into setting early deadlines in your head.” 

Mason tends to save all of his assignments for one night to “isolate all of the stress into one period.” Although his methods of leaving everything for one night have been successful grade-wise, he stated that other parts of your life would tend to fall behind because of days of procrastination before the full workday. 

“Having a flex period is the nicest thing in the world and takes a little edge off of a complete schedule,” Mason said. 

While flex periods (free periods) are not automatically built into someone’s schedule, all of the IB candidates interviewed agree that they allow them more time to complete homework and other IB requirements. Having a flex period has helped several seniors manage their time better.. 

“Communication with teachers is key, [for example] sending them an email or talking to them after class,” Mason said. “They know the stress of the IB Programme and admissions process and will probably try to cut you some slack.”

Mason’s last tip is for the avid “midnight coffee drinkers.”

“[My] biggest tip: lactose-free milk,” Mason said. “When you’re drinking coffee at midnight, you don’t want any indigestion, right? Indigestion is a great excuse not to work. So eliminate lactose from your midnight coffee for the best results.” 

Insight coming from a couple of stressed-out seniors, the IB Programme will not completely eat you alive and there are ways to minimize the pressures stemming from coursework and college application loads.