I am a member of the International Baccalaureate program: a rigorous, academic society designed to give me a worldly education that will open my eyes to global problems.
Do I sound pretentious yet?
I do. I’m sorry. It’s not really like that, I promise, and I’m here to tell you why it isn’t. That’s just the spiel IB gives to families of interested sophomores to convince parents that this program that will help their kids get into a fantastic college.
Instead, I’m here to tell all the freshmen and sophomores why they should consider this program, without the fancy, meaningless words and with only a bit of bias. And, of course, to let all the Advanced Placement kids know what they’re missing out on. Read this and weep.
I chose to do IB because I had always taken, and been told to take, the most difficult classes – honors, advanced, whatever you’d like to call it. In case you’ve managed to escape the onslaught of information about IB versus AP during your high school years, IB is a rigorous program that students at East can choose to take. Six of my seven classes are advanced, leaving only one elective that can “give my brain a break”. Though that’s why I chose to throw myself into the program, there are so many better reasons to have chosen to do IB. The first being the insomniac-ridden group of procrastinators that I find myself surrounded by every day, who I have learned to love.
That didn’t come immediately, though. Unfortunately, after completing the first week of school, I went home and told my mom that I was worried I wouldn’t be able to stand it. I would be with the same people in six of my seven classes, day in, day out. My math class only has seven people, and my chemistry class has twelve. If I got tired of them, there would be nowhere to run.
But now, it’s four months after questioning my abilities to spend the majority of my day with the same forty people. And somehow, I’m not tired of my classmates yet. Somehow, I like them more than I did to begin with.
My seven-person math class, called “higher level math” in the IB world, but a similar class to Calc BC, is the hardest class I have ever taken. Maybe it’s just a lack of that “math brain” on my part, or maybe it really is difficult material. I’m having to work harder than I have ever had to before. Somehow, though, it’s still my favorite class.
The other six people in it make me laugh until I cry. Our teacher is fantastic. We get to draw on the board and dare people to dance and make bets on who can make the shot into the trash can in mathsketball, by far the dorkiest game I have ever played.
While the tiny classes had turned feared claustrophobia into friendship, there was one other aspect about IB that forced us to befriend each other: the difficulty. There’s one slight downside about the class sizes – though parents may consider it a pro. Teachers can grade bigger, more difficult projects.
That’s the one big difference between Chemistry 2 IB and Chemistry 2 AP: design labs. In Chem 2 IB, we’re required to literally design our own experiments, in which we are given an actual page limit, twelve pages, on how much we’re allowed to write. They take an entire week, and most of my classmates were up until midnight or one in the morning finishing them.
Yes, it’s amazing that we get to do these. How many students around the world are getting to make their own labs? Unfortunately, that doesn’t stop everyone in IB from complaining about how difficult they are.
That’s actually how we bonded though. With constant complaints being launched in the group chat, it was impossible to escape each other. The day before the lab was due, three other girls and I sat in our teacher’s room “getting work done”. In all honesty, we were trying to convince our teacher to let us celebrate his birthday and accidentally spilling our lab data.
A slow change occurred throughout the first quarter and a half of this school year. We all started off as friends, sure. We had a group message, complained about school, maybe waved to each other in the hallways.
But by now, the awkward barriers have been broken. We’ve come to realize that we’re all plagued by the same extended essay that’s encroaching upon us, that we’ve silently agreed to procrastinate on as much as possible. We all feel a little special because we can say we’re IB students, even though we know someone should probably tell us we’re not that cool.
IB isn’t for everyone. It isn’t for those who want larger classes or to see a large variety of people throughout the day. It is for those who want to constantly surround themselves with people who, like themselves, are looking to learn new things. If I want to continue to love learning, even when I have too much homework to sleep, I need to be surrounded by people that want to keep loving it, too.