first of all, you can skip your freshman year of college if you do well. Fair warning: it’s a bit of a long read so bear with me.
As the DP starts it may feel like you’re being thrown into the deep end of a swimming pool. In year two your IAs become your biggest source of pain, dealing with your EE and increasing course difficulty on the side. Through all this it is easy to feel hopeless, or wonder what the point of all of this even is. I’ve been there, I know what that’s like, and I sympathize that much more with all of you who need to do it through online teaching. But there is a very bright light at the end of the tunnel.
The IBDP opens up so many doors for those of you looking at University education. With the diploma in hand you can apply almost everywhere in the world and in a lot of places even get credit transfers for a lot of courses depending on how well you did in specific subjects. In my personal experience my university degree required 132 credits to complete, of which 12 (4 subjects) were transferred from high school by default! To put it into perspective one course is 3 credits and 1 semester is about 4-6 credits. That’s almost an entire semester of courses just exempted.
More importantly though, the IB teaches you how to work and how to study effectively. I know it is very hard to cope with the immense workload that you all have, but as a result everything after IB will just be a breeze. My four years of university just finished and not a single time in my entire degree did I feel even half as stressed as I did in the IBDP. The IB requires you to analyse and present information objectively and concisely. In return you gain the skill to write informative pieces of text about even the most complicated topics in a short text. This is a skill which is invaluable in University and beyond, where quality is far more important than quantity.
Studying beyond high school will become second nature to you as any new information you need to learn will be easy to assimilate. In university this is important, since classes are typically 100+ students and the teacher doesn’t have time (or just doesn’t want) to help each individual student. Consultation hours leave a lot to be desired for large classes, so self-learning is your best option. And after you go through the stress of reviewing the entire course curriculum for 6 subjects for a set of exams for your DP, ANY studying you do afterwards will be a piece of cake. This is even more important when you do internships or start working, as your boss will not teach you how to do you job and you will need to adapt based on what you see around you.
One final point I would like to make is on the purpose of CAS and TOK. I know these seem pointless (and to a large extent they are), but in my opinion they teach you that in university (and beyond) you often have to do things which don’t appeal to you. Whether this means a subject in area outside of your major, or having to write a summary on something your boss told you to but you really don’t like to write about, these instances are fairly common. Learning to have patience and apply your brainpower to matters which you thoroughly dislike (I certainly did) is an important life lesson. Your may not always get the best results, but that’s exactly the point. Develop your patience and perseverance, and you will one day understand why it was all worth it.
Looking back at my DP experience I wish someone had told me the importance of these lessons. It doesn’t make the journey any easier, but at least it gives you a reason to do it all and try your best. It’s okay to feel down, and it’s okay to perform poorly sometimes. After all we are humans (except those of us who aren’t) and we make mistakes, but you can rest assured that at the end of it all you will have an immense advantage.
To wrap it up I’d like to give you all my personal experience. My first year of DP I pretty much didn’t pay attention to school except before major exams. I did alright but nowhere near well enough. As my IAs started to kick in I had to devote more and more time to school and applied myself to the maximum. Despite everything I only graduated with 36/45 points as you can all see by my tag. I applied to universities around the world and ended up getting an offer with a full scholarship in a University in Hong Kong. I have just completed my Bachelor’s in Electrical Engineering and have started working for a consultancy company. The IBDP has given me more skills in two years than university has in the entire 4 years. Although I have gained a large amount of knowledge, my fundamental learning skills are the same as they were in high school. When I write essays I always plan my outline first like I did in English; when I learn a new equation I always try to understand how it works instead of memorising it like I did in Math HL; when we learned the calculus used for electromagnetic applications I always strived to understand the physical meaning of the equations like I did in Physics HL. I could go on and on, but the point remains the same: the IBDP prepared me for gaining knowledge in a useful way instead of just cramming information in and hoping to memorise it. Undoubtedly you will have the same preparation whether you realise it or not, and one day you will be so grateful for this programme. Despite all the questionable decisions with the exam route/non-exam route, the learning will prepare you all the same.
I hope this post hasn’t been too much to read. I tried to keep it short but in reality there are so many more things I could talk about than those I mentioned above. I would probably need to divide everything into chapters though haha. Good luck to all of you who are reading!
If you would like some more details about me, or want to have a further discussion on some points feel free to start a comment thread, I look forward to anything you may have to contribute and I'll do my best to reply!
TLDR: The IBDP gives you the necessary skillset to be an efficient life-long learner and almost everything you do after it will feel like a breeze.
Edit 1: Hey all, I didn't expect this post to receive so much attention, but I'm very glad to see all of you commenting! At the end of the day, there are people with different opinions, so let's try to stay civil in the commends and help each other understand our points of views! Take care of yourselves everyone, I sincerely hope you and your loved ones are staying safe and successful in these challenging times Pros: You're usually in classes with people who actually want to learn, you get really good at writing papers and assignments and completing work FAST, in some schools the conversion rates are really high so your grades look better to universities than they actually are, you learn to manage time and be well rounded, college credits, enables you to study anywhere, you get away with a lot, like you can do projects on controversial topics that may be banned from "regular high school" and there's a lot of freedom with assignments, it broadens your perspective
Cons: It can be a lot of work, it's really fast paced and can be stressful.Pros:
depth of courses
courses are intellectually challenging
I kinda enjoy the fact that it's taken by people from the whole world
mostly good teachers
treated by teachers as "special"
you may learn something new or become interested in a course you weren't that fond of before
very interesting and well-written textbooks
your writing skills will improve
TOK is a unique course and (if taught well!) will make you think "outside the box"
you have to be quite good at everything
subjects you wouldn't have if you took A levels influence your overall score
universities don't always recognise IB
and even if they do the entry requirements may be harmful for IB students due to the lack of knowledge of IB programme (but it can be also the opposite)
quite lot of work and time consuming
you have to meet all the deadlines so it can be quite stressful
at least in my school there are many gaps in schedule due to the number of courses taken by students from one grade (I have about four gaps in the schedule)
Still, whether it would be better for you to do the IB or the national curriculum really depends on where and what you would like to study so I would take that into consideration.
A fun variation of the multiplayer knockout game genre that is well-liked by young people today is stumble guys
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