Article by Carmel Limcaoco
It’s no secret that the International Baccalaureate program is one of the most challenging programs that a student could take in their junior and senior years of high school. The program itself is notorious for its heavy workload and demanding expectations; underclassmen typically expect the worst. Thus, one would expect that the transition to IB classes is a difficult one; teachers expect more from their students, not only in terms of quality of work, but also in terms of independence. This year, the batch of 2019 experienced the IB program for the first time in these first three weeks of school.
There are clearly big differences between ISM’s underclass program and the IB.
“It’s definitely a change from freshman and sophomore year,” Junior Audrey S. says. “On the plus side, it’s great to be able to choose every single class you’re taking- with no required ones. So hopefully, you’re really working on the topics and fields of study that you’re genuinely interested in. Study hall is also a great time to get a chance to catch up on work or just rest between classes.”
While Audrey thinks that there are upsides to the program, she also thinks that it has its challenges as well. “Most of our classes are much faster paced than the ones we’ve had in the past 2 years, so it’s harder to keep up and balance your workload with extracurriculars. So far, the first 3 weeks haven’t been terribly though, even though I’m sure the work will ramp up later on,” she says.
All courses of the IB are seen as some of the most challenging courses one could take in their high school years, but some courses are perceived as more difficult than others. “Right now, SL Chemistry and HL History are two of my most intimidating subjects because of how much in-depth understanding they both require,” Junior Elisabeth C. says. “I’m also super nervous for the EE because it seems like a lot of work, and I feel like a lot of juniors underestimate the workload it gives.” Assignments like the Extended Essay, Theory Of Knowledge presentation, and required Internal Assessments for each class, have proven themselves to be some of the more difficult aspects of the IB program.
With the heavier workload that the IB poses, one would think that students would have a difficult time balancing their time between their outside-of-school commitments and their academics. However, Elisabeth has found a way around this. “Right now, I’m able to manage my time because I’m great about making schedules. I make a trillion schedules each week for every assessment I have, just to make sure I’m on track,” she says.
It is incredibly important to stay on top of your workload while balancing all the other aspects of your life, especially in the last two years of high school where academics hold the most importance. Best of luck to the juniors in their first year of the IB program, and to the seniors in their last!