If you are, or are friends with an International Baccalaureate student, you've probably seen the posts on social media announcing their freedom from the chains of IB. "We passed!"..."No more IAs!"..."Good riddance, high school!" You're probably thinking all right, we get it. IB kids, can you maybe chill? but their excitement is no exaggeration. IB was the worst two years of my life (for academics and my mental health) and I, for one, am beyond glad it's over.
The first reason that IB was such a horrible experience was the toxic community it created. My public high school had both an IB stream and a regular stream of students. This bred a sense of exclusivity to the point where us IB students had a cult-like support system in place. We were IB. All we could talk about was IB and our EEs, IAs and every two letter acronym we could think of. Although at times, the close-knit community was nice, one person's anxiety would spread to everyone else and our "support system" turned into a machine designed to keep all of us on edge at all times. Many of us rarely ventured out of our IB bubble to find time to relax (and sleep) between our assignments and tests.
Second was the obvious workload. The way IB is designed is to force you to become a well-rounded student. Unlike AP, or my provincial education system, you can't choose courses that you're good at or are interested in pursuing. For IB, you have to take a course in almost every discipline. So although you may find the math coursework to be a piece of cake, the tests, homework, and papers may be overwhelming to another student. Unless you're gifted with an affinity for all subjects, IB guarantees that you will struggle with the workload for at least one course in your high school career.
The worst part of IB, however, are the exams. Senior year exams in May. For me, this meant re-learning two years of material for all my courses in two weeks. Maybe it's just that I'm not too good at dealing with stress, but I can only imagine the number of snaps I've been featured in as "that girl breaking down in the library." However, if the slew of panic-stricken tweets that flooded my feed were any indication, my classmates were in the same boat as me. Honest advice to the IB students in their junior year: start studying early. You've heard that line a million times before for a reason. You may feel invincible after finishing all your IAs and EEs, but exams hit you a lot harder than you will be prepared for. Oh, and don't hesitate to drink tons of bubble tea to get you through the three weeks of hell.
If you ask me right now if I enjoyed IB, I would say with utmost confidence, that no, I did not. Was IB worth it? Would I do it again? Well, yes. I'm a lot stronger than I was before the whole IB debacle took over my life and the happiness of finishing my last exam and running out those school doors is not so bad either. As a bonus, I have a cult-ish support system of friends I can count on for anything.