To what extent does IB change a student’s personality?

The International Baccalaureate, nonprofit foundation headquartered in Geneva, offers four high quality international education programmes to more than one million students in more than 146 countries. One of these programmes is the diploma programme, typically completed by students prior to attending university. The IB DP programme is known to be “taxing” and “stressful”, however even though it may be demanding, it is renowned as the world’s most recognised programme. Given its credentials, there is no doubt that the IB may be the right choice for students all around the world.  But how does the synchronization of  ib and student personality happen.  But what about from a student satisfaction point of view? Is IB really worth it?


The first thing one can see on the IB website is the mission statement – “The International Baccalaureate aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect”. Indeed, this is a thought-provoking statement. But to what extent does an IB diploma graduate depict the morals that were set out by this mission statement?


Does an IB student showcase the learner profile attributes from the start ?


When I started my IB, I was shy and I tended to live in my bubble. The idea of putting my work up for display and allowing my beliefs to be showcased to the entire world scared me. IB allowed me to come out of my shell, sometimes it forced me to crawl out. Other days, IB would keep me awake at night, my hands shivering from fear, awaiting a presentation the next day. Over time I realised that stress was healthy, and this realisation healed my anxiety. My presentations were applauded, my essay was satisfactory, and my confidence was boosted. However, facing my fears upfront made me the person that I am today and for that I am grateful. 


Unmistakably, coming out of IGCSEs, there is a natural tendency for the student’s mindset to be completely devoted to academics, sidelining extracurriculars. Not only that, there is a general tendency to overlook skill-based learning. IB plays an important role in encouraging pedagogical leadership.  Past papers, marking schemes, teacher’s notes, and textbooks are given as much attention as enhancement of skill. The term “holistic education”j came into play and did justice to its meaning during the IB Diploma Programme. 


The framework of the Diploma Programme that helps student personality

last minute studying

Creativity, Activity and Service


The very structure of IB requires a student to explore every part of their personality.“Creativity, Activity and Service” – These may be those three words every IB beginner hates to hear. Unknowingly, the activities done in order to fulfill the requirements of CAS during these two years help build the extracurricular portfolio of the student. Undoubtedly, without CAS, many students do not have the incentive to participate in various leadership and volunteering activities. 


Not only does CAS add to the resume of a student, but it also builds a healthy competition between students. The flame to succeed, the hunger for better leadership roles and the fire to grab positions in societies are what help many students develop their own personality profiles. From marketing to logistics, when students take up roles that mimic real-life organizations, they seem to be better prepared for practical work. Life isn’t all about studying and content. A lot of it is about the application, and I believe that IB taught me the value of applying practical skills to work, a skill that many courses conveniently leave out. 


The Extended Essay


The compulsory Extended Essay that every student must attempt is a direct reflection of how IB quenches a student’s curiosity. One must note that this is not necessarily an overdone experiment or a potentially agreeable history essay on war and its effect on minorities. It can be as niche as analysing how conditional humour normalised the stigma attached to unconventional forms of pregnancy (which was the title of my extended essay) in a show. At the end of the day, it is about applying our knowledge and producing a research paper that highlights the students’ efforts in connecting to the subject. Not only does IB acknowledge this mini research paper that is produced by the student, IB also asks for the “reflection”. This reflection is vital in proving that IB doesn’t require students to produce per say, “perfect” research papers, but in fact, the programme encourages students to learn from their mistakes, and document this journey. 


Internal Assessments


A component of the IB diploma is its internal assessments. It is important to note that at least 30% of weightage is on the non-written part of the subject. These could be self-led research essays, presentations, or group projects. For languages, these could be oral presentations where the student not only displays their communication skills, but ventures and develops their connection with the respective language and its cultural aspect. With sciences, this may be hands-on practicals,  with students applying their knowledge to produce meaningful hypotheses and research papers. In humanities, students may go further, surveying human behaviour and human interactions in their environment. 

The fact that this itself is graded forces the student to do more than mugging up their content. It allows the student to explore the subject within the capacity of the framework but ventures deeper. The depth of the IB diploma means the possibilities are endless, and it is up to the student to make connections and forge a new relationship with the subject. The end result is that the student comes out not just as a mere well-read individual, but as a person who is evolved with education. 

So, in short, how different is the impact of the IB diploma programme from other higher level education institutions?


The IB coordinators do not lie during the orientation. IB isn’t just a course, it’s a way of life.  The values of the IB learner profile find themselves deeply embedded in the personalities of students at the end of the two-year course. Not only do personalities change, vital changes in mentality, thinking and perceptions come along. Humanities like Economics and History, usually force a student to get themselves involved in public speaking. 


The difference between IB and other programs can be paralleled by the difference between the Earth revolving around the sun and rotating around its axis. In the end, displacement may be zero, however, one has experienced the world with greater detail.  


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