Acronyms and Life Lessons from the IB Programme

Githu, Year 13, Century Park Campus

At face value, nothing more than two simple letters, however, when put together, the letters can reflect what is known to be a challenging programme of study for Secondary students. Name one other high school programme that requires 150 hours of community service, an extended-essay, ‘Theory of Knowledge’ (a class that literally has a section of a chapter devoted to the existence of bananas), on top of six intensive courses, not to mention all the other Extra-Curricular Activities we’re involved in, and college applications.

While the intensity and sheer amount of work can be concerning to students before they begin the programme, those of us who are actively engaged in IB know and experience the benefits. Obvious advantages include developing effective time-management skills, augmenting our critical analysis skills, and becoming a globally aware individual. However, these are all reasons that you can easily find for yourself through a simple Google search, or on I would like to tell you a little bit about what I’ve actually learned in IB.

First, stress is not your enemy. In fact, stress can undoubtedly become your greatest motivator. Over the past two years, stress has become an energizer, and has pushed me to do things I would not have done before. IB students learn not just how to cope with stress, but how to genuinely thrive under it. After all, no paper is worthy of a seven without a bit of pressure.

Second, you discover you have the tenacity of an Olympic athlete. Academic endurance is no small feat, and IB students are the ‘Michael Phelps’ of the sport. Between the essays and presentations and lab reports, we basically become professional intellectuals before we turn 18. Unlike other high school students who take a class for a year and then never look back, we take our classes for two consecutive years, and in most cases, go on to study the same thing in university. IB students probably have enough collective brainpower to become a legitimate energy source.

Third, there is no such thing as too many acronyms. EE, TOK, UGC, IOC, IA, and that’s just naming a few. Much like text speak, IB is filled with an incredible number of acronyms. Is there a valid learning point from this? Not really. But you can’t have a post about IB without mentioning acronyms.

Fourth, there is nothing more satisfying than passing a Physics test. Okay, maybe not specifically Physics, but everyone has that one subject where the textbooks might as well have been written in Elvish because it makes no sense whatsoever. For me, it’s Physics. My very first IB level test was in Physics, and the result still haunts me. After a year of hard work, though, I’m consistently hitting sixes and sevens, and honestly, I think I’m fully equipped to dominate in the field. I’m on the right path, Newton.

I’ve learned a lot these past two years, much more than will fit in a 600-word blog post. The most important takeaway is the kind of person the IB programme develops. Those of us who make it out alive are dedicated, confident, and resourceful – and I have to add, just all around awesome people.

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