For Freshmen. By Freshmen.
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Nov 06 2017
by Variya Tongtip

An Open Letter to IB Students

By Variya Tongtip - Nov 06 2017

Dear New IB Students,

Never doubt your intelligence, you are in this program for a reason. As a recent graduate of the International Baccalaureate program, I want to give you a few pieces of advice. Now I know that you probably have read a few articles of your own, or you have heard stories from the seniors at your high school. As an alumnus I can tell you that they were mostly right, but here's some advice all the same.

1. Get Your Sleep

At one point during your last two years of high school, you might find yourself in a small competition of who got the least amount of sleep that night. My best advice to you for this: don’t fall for it. My friend recently went to a seminar about sleep and the results of lack of sleep that they discussed are scary. 

2. Be Confident About Your Courses

You chose your course because (hopefully) you are passionate about it. Don’t let other people dictate your class choice because colleges would frown upon it. Taking Higher Level (HL) Theatre was one of the best decisions that I have ever made, and my college counselor said that it made me different as well. Doing the courses that you have a passion for will pay off so much in the long run, the last place you would want to find yourself in is not knowing which topic to choose for your Internal Assessment (IA) because you didn’t like any of the topics you learnt in class.

3. Talk To Your Parents

I sadly realized how vital it is to talk to my mom the last semester of my senior year. Like many of my friends, I didn’t understand how helpful it would be to let my mom know what my assignments were, not just that I had a lot of work. By telling my mom, she helped me stay on top of my work, asked me how my IA was going or if I was close to finishing my portfolio for Theatre yet. This also helped clear many of the tension and confusion as to why I had so much work and if I had a lot of work or was it just an excuse to get out of chores? And don’t just talk to them about your coursework, speak to them about colleges as well! This way you’re both on the same page, and it helps your parents know that you are on top of everything. This concept of talking to parents about work might be foreign to some people, but trust me, it will help both you and your parents in the long run.

4. Find Your Perfect Note System

Most IB courses are two year-long courses; therefore your notes should be consistent. Everyone has their way of taking notes. If the system that you have been using for notes has been working so far, great! If not, this is your perfect chance to start over. Try to put your notes on the same page, jumping around from Google Docs to Word will not help you when you’re trying to find notes for your final exams. If you have Google Drive, stick to it. If you prefer to use Word on your desktop, then use it! Check out Fresh U's comprehensive guide to note-taking for more ideas!

Here’s a tip: Use the Learning Outcomes as the title of your page!

5. Get To Know Your Teachers

Most of your teachers will find time for extra help outside of class, so use it! The IB program was designed to be challenging so do anything that will help you succeed. This will also come in handy if you ever need a great letter of recommendation, after all, the more your teacher knows you, the higher quality your letter is likely to be.

6. Find Time To Enjoy High School

Time flies, so find time to enjoy your last two years of high school! It is easy to be pulled into the never-ending cycle of IB complaining. In two years, you’re going to be glad that you took the IB, so while you are there, enjoy it! Enjoy clicking that "submit" button, enjoy the company of friends as you study for your Orals and enjoy the discussions that you have with your literature teacher about Shakespeare.

And to the seniors, this is your last year! You are halfway through the program, just keep pushing through. Someday you will look back on this and realize how much you miss it.


A Recent IB Graduate 

Lead Image Credit: Unspalsh

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Variya Tongtip - Skidmore College

Variya Tongtip is a freshman at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, but is currently abroad in London! Follow her on Instagram: @variyatongtip

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