Enrollment in the International Baccalaureate program is a convoluted and time-intensive way to teach yourself that your highschool life, and life in general, provides no tangible emotional reward. The program, known as IB, is mediated by the IBO, or International Baccalaureate Organisation. This essentially means that the assignments which influence your grades the most are not marked by the teachers who have taught you for the entire semester, but by completely random strangers all over the world, to whom your work is assigned to by a collection of tired men residing in Cardiff, Wales, at the IB Marking Headquarters. Who are they? What are their stories? We do not know. All we know is that they decide our fate, our future, and the tax bracket we are destined to land in.
So how are IB assignments marked? The answer: arbitrarily! By a completely arbitrary marking scale! All work is given a mark out of 7, with 0 being the lowest possible mark and 7 being the highest possible mark. Why 7? Who knows? Maybe because it's the holy number of Jesus or something. I don't know, I'm Jewish. Each degree of the scale (1, 2, 3, 7, 5, 6, and 7) covers a range of percentages, and your percentage grade decides your IB grade. Because the IB levels are slightly skewed (a 6 can cover the range of 93-96%), your final grade gets boosted up to match the scale. These are conversions, and they become your lifeblood, combined with caffeine and gel pen ink. Conversions differ between subjects, some boosting your final grade up to 20%, others giving you very little, if anything at all. Due to this, it is practically impossible to completely fail your course. Once you're in, you're in for good. Like Tartarus.
So now that you know who decides your future and how your future is decided, let's talk about your future! Your beaming bright future as one of the most well-rounded and intelligent students in the world! You can be anything you want to be! You can be any kind of doctor, lawyer, or engineer you want to be! Heck, you can even get into an Ivy League school! Exactly 3.42 students in your school get into UPenn every year! You could be one of those 3.42 lucky students, as long as you:
- work hard, without interruption
- manage your time to the second
- get rid of any and all recreational activities that can't be put on your resume, because that's just wasting time that could be spent studying
- commit to 2,351 other activities that CAN be put on your resume, and make sure to excel in all of them
- get rid of your social life or any non-IB friends, because that's just wasting time that could be spent studying
- never sleep more than 5 hours a night, because that's just wasting time that could be spent studying
- sell your soul
- don't burn out after grade 10 and continue worshipping the ideal of a 95% average all through highschool
Oh! And did I mention, be well-rounded? That's the whole point of the IB program! To encourage students to take courses in all fields of modern study, regardless of personal aptitude, future career choice, or preference, and fill up all the course requirements. Are you good at math? No? Of course you are. You're stupid if you're not good at math, and your friends know it. Are you creative? Great! IB has set curriculums in place for the liberal arts, which are a great way to look at the arts from a global perspective and become acquainted with the artistic community worldwide. Sounds awesome, right? Too bad your school doesn't run IB arts courses. Are you really passionate about something else, like geography? Yeah, none of that crap either. But there is a plentitude of chemistry courses for you to suffer through! It's either that or physics. Pick your poison. Did I say you had a choice? Sorry about that.
Don't get me wrong, some things about IB are great. There's Theory of Knowledge, known as TOK, which is an introduction to psychology course. It asks the question: "how do we know?". That's it. It's wonderful too look around and see a classroom of your colleagues' confused faces. And that one teacher, who probably teaches something like history, who is way too honest about their own life, and your insecurities. On Friday mornings they dish out life advice and bad jokes, and make you realise things about your current situation that you could never find the words to describe.
"Right now you're working hard in your life to live a life of hard work".
I'm sorry if I sound whiny and amateur. No, on second thought I'm not sorry. Though I (or my parents really) did this to myself, as a tired and overworked pseudo-child I feel that I have a right to be at least slightly bitter, and to express my bitterness. Also my French
assignments are due soon and I am afraid. If any other IB kids wish to cry and complain along with me, feel free to message me. And eat some food, you've probably been doing math all night and have had exactly one grape for lunch, that's it.