How I’ve Grown as a Student and Person Through IB

A reflection on semester one.

How I've Grown as a Student and Person Through IB

Semester one is officially over. That means that my first semester of IB is over, which is CRAZY to me.


Nearly a year ago, I was faced with the decision of choosing my path for my last two years of high school. I’ve always been the type of person that stays in her comfort zone and doesn’t take risks. That didn’t change with IB. When I originally chose my classes for junior year, I was only planning to take IB Literature (which all juniors take) and IB Biology. I don’t know why, but I was wholeheartedly opposed to the diploma program. A year later, as a diploma program student, it is really crazy to me that I was so opposed once upon a time.


How I changed my mind? IB students’ perspectives.


My class was given the opportunity to Skype with IB students from Notre Dame Academy in Toledo, Ohio last Spring, and after that Skype call, I knew I wanted to be a DP student. I can’t pinpoint one specific thing that those girls said to convince me, but I do remember how I felt after the conversation. I felt so empowered for some reason. I could feel how the risk that those girls took was paying off for them.


I am SO glad that I changed my mind about being a DP student. Now, nearly a year later, I want to share my own personal growth I’ve experienced through IB, because I know how a student perspective can be impactful.


As previously mentioned, I have always been a play-it-safe person and student. I have always been the girl who chooses being comfortable in a CP course over challenging myself in an honors course. Now, I can see how that always came from a lack of self-confidence. I never wanted to stand out, so I found it difficult to ask questions or seek extra help. Simply put, I didn’t want to ever feel stupid. The reality of that was, “blending in” was comfortable, and comfortable was enough for me. But now, I know how that limited my growth. And honestly, I needed to grow and just didn’t know it.


So, now to my growth in first semester.


I went into junior year being not nearly as organized as I should have been. I sort of winged everything. I was terrible at time management. Whatever made it to my planner made it, and the rest I would just count on myself remembering it. My forgetfulness and lack of time management snuck up on me very quickly. Nearly every night, I was going to sleep well after everyone else in my house had. I was getting too little sleep to completely function, and on top of that, once the weekend rolled around, I could never really catch up because I had a job. Some people can still function on little sleep, I cannot. Needless to say, it didn’t take too many days of feeling like a literal zombie before I realized I needed to get myself into gear.


My sleepless nights were just caused by my inability to effectively manage my time. A lot of people have said to me, “IB must be so much more work!” That’s kind of subjective. Yes, the workload is different than sophomore year, but that’s true regardless of what courses you are taking. What IB forces you to do is truly manage your time. You simply cannot leave things until the last minute.


Not too long into this year, I went to Ms. Carter. I had her last year as my morality teacher, so I already knew I could go to her whenever. The only difference is that now she is the IB coordinator, so she really understands what I am going through academically. The day I went to Ms. Carter, I was in what we call ‘crisis mode’- really just an accumulation of sleep deprivation projecting me into an enveloping state of stress. Ms. Carter helped me figure out what I knew, but I didn’t want to accept; I was in a very toxic relationship with procrastination.


Soon after that, I invested in a planner that would help me keep my life together in the most effective way. Really, it’s just a completely blank notebook that I write down homework and important stuff in by using fancy lettering and colorful pens. This has definitely been a huge part of staying organized for me. For everyone it’s different, but for me I’ve found that making my planner fun and colorful makes it easier to take in.


Whoever you are, reading this, I’m sure you can agree with me when I say that procrastination is a very tempting state to enter. It’s not something you can unlearn overnight. I definitely wasn’t able to, as much as I wanted to, but I have been able to challenge my procrastination so much easier with each passing day. I’m really glad I can work on this now, rather than hitting the wall of procrastination in college or beyond.


The other huge thing semester one taught me was that I needed to alter my study habits. I remember one of the first quizzes I took in IB Biology I did very poorly on. When I went to my teacher, Mrs. Bianchi, for extra help, I admitted to being disappointed. What she said, I still remember. Basically, she said that being disappointed wasn’t productive because there were going to be many more quizzes and many more learning opportunities, and my one poor grade did not define my academic career in IB Biology. From that, I realized that my energy was more useful in figuring out how I could study efficiently rather than dwelling on my disappointment. In my experience, the way to excel in IB is through conceptualization and application. When I realized this, I was able to shift the way I studied and looked at information to allow me to process topics adeptly, whereas before I was focused more so on memorization.


I still have three more semesters of IB to go, so I know there will be even more growth with time. Nevertheless, I can already see tremendous growth in myself. Not only have I been able to improve my time management skills and study habits, but I’ve also been able to ask for help and recognize when I need to. I honestly am so grateful that myself a year ago changed her mind and decided to go into the Diploma Program. I don’t know how different things would be now if I hadn’t changed my mind, I just know that they would be, and I would be. Overall, I’m just very grateful I was given the opportunity to be part of the IB Program at NDA.