An Open Letter to IB Students

Dear current and future IB students,

We’re constantly being told how difficult the IB is. Undoubtedly, the IB is difficult, but as students and teachers we get so caught up in the constant flurry of stress we fail to see the bigger picture. Here are a few things I think we should all remember during our two final years of high school, and if you’re not there yet- read this again when the time comes.

  • The university you get into does not define you. Not all high performing students necessarily belong in competitive academic environments. It is my personal belief that our school has an unhealthy culture of placing too much value in such universities, and not enough on the individual ability and needs of each student.
  • Everyone’s goals will be different. Your first choice may be someone’s “safety”, and vice versa. Avoid minimising the prestige of different schools; just because you may deem yourself too gifted to attend doesn’t mean your classmate feels the same. To each their own difficulties and their own goals. 
  • Never let anyone else make you feel bad about your subject choices, often they’re just jealous of all the extra points you’re getting from making a more strategic choice 😉 

Image result for oprah shrugging gif

  • Learn to recognise what’s important – you don’t always need to put in 100% for homework assignments. Do your best on your IAs/EE/Tests, but don’t run yourself into the ground.
  • Believe in yourself – don’t let the constant discourse of how unsurmountable the IB is discourage you from whatever it is you want to do.
  • Don’t constantly talk about how stressed you are. This isn’t to say that if you experience real stress you shouldn’t speak to someone about it, but constantly complaining about feeling stressed will not only exacerbate it but also stress out the person next to you.
  • Don’t ask people about their grades, and try to avoid talking about yours – no one needs to know what you get, and you shouldn’t be comparing yourself to others.
  • Relativize! Whenever you’re panicking and you feel overwhelmed, remember that the IB is not everything. This won’t be the most life altering experience you go through, and you have so much ahead of you. (grad trip!)
  • When you feel anxiety coming on, try to channel it into productivity, saving yourself future angst and stress. I promise you’ll feel more relieved once you get a bit of work done.
  • The more organised you are, the less stressed you’ll feel. Take it one day at a time and celebrate small victories; don’t constantly project yourself to the future into the next stressful assignment.
  • Don’t waste your last years of high school – make time for your social life. Academics are not the most important aspect of your life, and you are so much more than your grades.
  • Take care of yourself. Your mental health should always come first.
  • Do small things to ease your mind: light candles, take baths, read an uplifting book, have a good skin care routine (boys too, no shame in washing your face regularly), go running, clean your room, or whatever else helps you feel relaxed.

Image result for chandler bath I've had a long day

This isn’t to say that you should completely disregard the IB and not try your hardest, but you shouldn’t let it take over your life. Your IB score isn’t everything, your grades aren’t everything; your university experience will be enjoyable if you enjoy what you’re studying and make the right choices for you.

Ignore the incessant droning on about the difficulties you’re going to face, simply take them on as they come and face them head on. Don’t let peers (and teachers) scare you into a constant state of stress and anxiety. Enjoy the education you’re receiving, the good times with your friends, and this really transformative period you’re in. You’re becoming a person of your own, a person who will be defined by far more than what they got in the IB. Chin up, don’t let yourself be bogged down and discouraged by the idea that the year ahead will be difficult- instead be determined.


An IB student who’s doing her best to follow her own advice.

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