PART I: THE INTERNATIONAL BACCALAUREATE IS ABOUT FAR MORE THAN CELEBRATING THE GRADES
Greetings! I graduated British International School Hanoi (BIS Hanoi) in June 2018, and I will be reading Management (BSc) at the London School of Economics (LSE) this September.
My nearest future plan is to learn how to cook and to do my own laundry – as you can see, getting a 44/45 does NOT excuse my lack of very basic skills in daily life! That being said, I hope that readers of this article would see me as someone ordinary, with mundane problems just like every other teenager, and not as a member of the 1% of students that achieved similarly exceptional scores – the 1% that is often mistakenly deemed to be those ‘elite’ in intelligence and ingenuity.
I would like to reiterate the fact that accomplishments are relative. The effort of someone with a 45 is not necessarily more praise-worthy than that of someone with a 30. I want fellow students to understand that IB wants YOU to succeed, and that success is achieved already when you come out of the IB as a better version of yourself than when you came in (and you will).
As someone who strongly values the attribute of Open-Mindedness in the IB Learner Profile, I will not argue that the IB Diploma is the best possible choice (although I truly believe so). However, it will undoubtedly be the most rigorous (but rewarding) journey – far more rigorous than other qualifications (e.g: AP, SAT, ACT, and even A-Level). With the IB:
- You will be far more prepared for university than your A-Level, SAT or AP peers: In the first year of university, a huge amount of time will be spent on learning skills (research; referencing/citing sources; critical reading; etc.). By the time you start your degree, you will have practiced and mastered all of these already, as you have submitted a mini-dissertation for each of your IB subjects during the 2-year course. This gives you a tremendous advantage over your fellow undergraduates, as you are already miles ahead with your skillset.
- You will end up knowing far more about your chosen subjects than most average adults do: Kant’s deontology; critical commentary of Rasputin’s lewdness; conversion of codeine to heroin; etc. – these are just some of the areas of knowledge that are taught exclusively by the IB curriculum. There is absolutely no limit to the amount of knowledge that you gain! This allows you to participate in conversations of any kind, with an intellectual vitality and eloquence that is rarely seen of our age.
- You end up with a gigantic portfolio of research papers, all of which can help you impress your future friends and even employers: 6 research papers (each being 6-12 pages long), one 4000-word dissertation, 1 epistemological research and countless CAS hours, etc. I still talk to my friends about these, and at my university it is actually a good start to making friends by exchanging and discussing EEs.
- A love of learning that will forever stay a part of you: What I absolutely love about the IB is that you graduate a changed and better version of yourself. Qualifications like SATs and ACTs are merely qualifications, whose exams you sit only for the sake of earning the grades – they show nothing about the maturity or progress of an individual. With everything that the IB puts you through, you will graduate academically, mentally, and physically flourished. The 10 attributes of the Learner Profile will indeed stay a part of you, forever.
I owe each of my teacher up to 50% of that 44, since the majority of what I have done was simply following their instructions. I am proud to have teachers who are willing to spend hours and hours outside of lesson time to help me get things just right.
Sometimes it is truly touching: during my university application process, 10+ teachers volunteered to help at various stages and even when I got rejected by my dream school, all of them were there for me. The teachers at BIS make you believe that you are capable of anything and push you to limits you never knew you are capable of. What makes the teachers here so unique is that they care deeply for your personal well-being. I just want to remind IB students that you are not alone in this journey, and that surrounding you every day at school are highly dedicated, caring and simply wonderful teachers.
Hanh Tien Ngoc Nguyen
BIS Hanoi Class of 2018 Alumna
London School of Economics
(To be continued)