Article by Melissa Dy
Photo taken by Maxine Alindongan, edited by Jess Cuadro
It is that time of the year again when anxiety about the future peaks and our decision-making skills are put to the ultimate test: course selection season. The atmosphere is especially tense for our Sophomores as they are filled with hopes, fears and expectations about the IB and what lies ahead of them. As happens every year, there are people who lie on the two extremes of the decision-making spectrum: those who have known their passions since they were 2 years old and others who are undecided about what they could possibly deal with for the next two years of their high school career.
Without a doubt, the IB is a rigorous and demanding program that allows students to go more in-depth in certain classes than they would in a normal high school course. For Soo Yeon Hong, the IB presents an opportunity to explore topics that she is passionate about, especially through Theory of Knowledge (TOK), while Karen Tokeshi looks forward to “a new challenge that will help increase [her] knowledge” and prepare her for her chosen career path. The entire point of high school is to learn about areas in which each student is interested, and the IB will absolutely help them to do that, provided, that they choose the correct subjects.
Much of the anxiety that surrounds course selection is because the courses Sophomores pick may affect their future career options, closing certain paths to them. This is especially true for the Group 3 courses, which include many topics not previously covered, such as Economics or Psychology. For example, choosing Computer Science instead of Biology would make it very difficult to pursue medicine and become a doctor. Similarly, if one wants to become a dancer, one should probably take Dance instead of Chemistry. For many Sophomores, course selection for IB will be their first big decision that may directly affect their future, which can be overwhelming.
The infamous intensity and difficulty of the IB program itself can be daunting as well. Kelly Molloy worries that the sheer workload from academics alone will be too much, never mind the CAS hours, extracurricular activities, and leisure time that have to be juggled by students. Soo Yeon fears “having to let go of the teachers’ hands”, as teachers will spoon-feed the students less, who must then learn to become more independent learners.
However, Louis Richez, a Junior starting his second semester of IB, says that the IB is not too bad. At least, it has not started out too bad. “The workload didn’t start out too big,” he explains, ”but it builds up over the year”.
“Anything with acronyms, and you know it will be a Hell Week,” Diego Granizo says, jumping in, referencing the seemingly endless Internal Assessments (IA), Individual Oral Presentation (IOP), Individual Oral Commentary (IOC), TOK presentation, and Extended Essay (EE). “Time is the biggest issue with the IB,” says Carla Singson. “You never have free time because you always should be working on your IA or EE”.
In a sense, the IB becomes a way of life for students. “The IB is my life,” laughs Louis. “Everything you do is for the IB. You do sports for action hours […] and tutorials because you need to work on your EE”.
For ISM high school students, the IB shapes school life because “you spend 9th and 10th grade preparing for it, and 11th and 12th grade actually doing it,” says Liah Gomez, another Junior.
“It’s like when you first start to run or workout,” says Jordan Kim, a Junior. “In the beginning, it hurts so much, but after all that you start to feel really rewarded. [The IB] is sort of like that”.
The IB is a shared experience that almost all ISM students can engage in. Whether it is to prepare for it, take it, or complain about it, the IB is an integral part of ISM life and one that sophomores will soon partake in, for the better or for the worse.