So, you have already chosen to do the IB – great decision! As you may know, the diploma programme is one of the fastest growing systems in the world (IB Fast Facts). Not only that, but you are joining a cohort of students that is truly global in outlook. In fact, over 2500 schools worldwide are now doing the IB. So what is the real difference between doing the diploma as opposed to other systems?

As an ex-IB student myself, I want to talk to you about the “other” stuff that makes up the diploma rather than the actual syllabus. We know that the IBDP means you take a wide variety of subjects. We know that you are about to undertake one of the most challenging courses in the world and we know just how much universities really value the IB programme. But what you might not know is about all the extra elements. What am I talking about?

Well, in this case, I want to tell you all about the CAS (Creativity, Action and Service) element and the extended essay. Going into the diploma, you may see these components as extras that you need to complete. But they are so much more. In the case of CAS you really can let your passions and interests run wild…

Whether you’re an amazing basketball player, love climbing or paint murals and volunteer over the weekend, you really can draw everything in. For me, that meant spending lots of time debating, taking part in Model United Nations and working with special needs students in South Africa. What’s more, if you do get involved in these activities you can travel to exciting and exotic places with your friends AND add to your IB. What about saving an entire ecosystem?

In the case of CAS too, you can explore new and diverse things you had never even dreamt of. If you have always wanted to take up a new sport or musical instrument but never found the time – then do it! If you have always wanted to teach or work on a conservation project – then do it! The possibilities really are endless and school is a great time to explore those options before you go off to college or work.

Next is the extended essay. When you first start your extended essay, the prospect of writing such a big paper seems very daunting – trust me I know! But actually, it can be one of the best parts of your entire diploma. The reality is that you get to do an in-depth research project on an area you are interested in. That means spending time learning something you really enjoy AND developing invaluable skills. When you get to university, what you learn through your EE often means you’re ahead of other students. You know how to research books and journals. You know how to study independently to develop your own project AND you know how to reference. That means that the scary first essay is much easier for you and you can concentrate on getting all that content correct.

Combine all these factors with extra subjects and diverse learning, and the diploma programme is a great way to set yourself up for university and the future. You have many opportunities to do something different and interesting that helps – not only with your CV and applications – but also to create a whole network of global friends that last a lifetime. So get involved and see what you can achieve if you try something new!