I graduated from the IB programme in May 2014.
I perceived the IB as a rigorous programme aimed at preparing its students better for tertiary education than our regular national diploma programme (the Abitur) as the IB, for example, puts a stronger focus on essay writing and its formal requirements. I recently had the chance to skim through the Bachelor thesis of my cousin who did not do the IB and while doing so, I caught myself many times criticizing the formal presentation of her essay, including her style of writing and her bibliographic references and quotations. I personally feel like the IB taught me many things with which regular students are not confronted until they attend university. Moreover, I believe that the IB offers students who spent a year abroad in an English-speaking country a great opportunity to continue having classes entirely taught in English. This allows them to maintain and even to further improve their English skills acquired abroad.
Regarding the workload of the IB, it cannot not be denied that the IB requires a greater deal of commitment than a regular diploma programme given that IB students, for example, have to complete additional requirements, including the Extended Essay and CAS. It becomes even more challenging to cope with this tremendous workload when you do the IB and the national diploma programme with its own specific requirements at the same time. I think that my personal key to success was learning how to manage my time in an effective way and to make sure that I did sport and other things I enjoyed and considered as important on a regular basis as a way to distract myself and to balance the physical and mental demands of the IB.
One advantage of the IB at my school was definitely the fact that I had nearly all classes with the same students. In order for me to do the IB, I had to change schools. Thus, I was a little worried in the beginning that it might be difficult to make new friends. Yet, as I was not the only student that had changed schools to do the IB and as I was with the same students nearly all day long, my worries turned out to be unfounded. Furthermore, now that I have graduated, I really have the impression that the IB programme and its demands bind together the students as they are more or less forced to constantly help and to support each other in order to cope with the rigorous demands. This definitely helps to build better and stronger relationships among the individual students. What I found also quite enjoyable was the fact that my fellow IB students never called me nerd in spite of my good grades as they all considered good grades as something that has to be acknowledged and not as something to be made fun of.
Additionally, it is safe to say that the IB core requirements, including CAS, the EE and TOK, helped me to become aware of what I want to do after graduation. Before starting the IB, I had no specific career aspirations. Yet, during the course of Higher Level Biology, I soon became aware of my extraordinary interest in the human body and human medicine. The laboratory work and the Biology Extended Essay gave me the opportunity to further explore this matter and allowed me to realize what I want to study at university. What is more is that my CAS activities, including leading our school’s Art Club and assisting the coach of a children’s gymnastics team, helped me become aware of the fact that I really enjoy working with kids. I am sure that I would have never made the decision to spend a year abroad as an au pair after school, if I had not worked voluntarily with children within the context of CAS.
Looking back at the last two academic years, I am glad that I chose to do the IB even though I cannot deny that I sometimes found myself wondering what had made me sign up for this programme. Nevertheless, now that I have graduated, I can say that all the work and effort were totally worth it due to the various opportunities offered by the IB.