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How an IB Diploma changes your life

We invited IB Diploma graduates to reflect on post-IB life and offer perspectives on topics of their choosing. Alumna Kristin Waites is one of this year’s cohort of alumni contributing authors.

By Kristin Waites

Kristen Waites

Kristin Waites is a graduate of Baylor University and the IB Program at Garland High School

With my college graduation behind me and a new job on the horizon, it’s odd to think that I won’t be heading back to school any time soon. Education is a part of me – it has defined my life in many ways I never would have thought possible, and my IB Diploma was a big part of that. Not only has it affected how I view my schooling, but IB also changed the way I live my life. Now that I am no longer a student, it’s more challenging for me to see, but I hope that my introspection is something that resonates with you, whether you are an IB graduate, preparing for exams, or just trying to decide if it is the right thing for you.

IB gives you a sense of worldliness

I grew up in a small suburb of a major city – I had an utterly normal childhood, which could have led to an utterly normal adulthood. But I left high school with not just an understanding, but an appreciation of cultures other than my own. This has shaped my life experiences in many different ways, particularly as I explore my views on tolerance, religion, and even friendships.

This sense of worldliness is what gives me the urge to travel, and not just as a tourist. It gives me the urge to learn about other cultures, and to participate in them as fully as I can. This is one of the most central parts of my personality, and it came from my experiences being exposed to this kind of open attitude about the world.

IB makes you curious

The urge to learn that is cultivated in IB classes isn’t something that ever goes away, and I think it’s probably the most valuable thing I gained. In my IB classes, I was encouraged to ask questions, to doubt, to wonder. I wasn’t just taught things, I was taught to learn, and that has been something that has followed me through my schooling and beyond. I may no longer be a student, but that doesn’t mean I can’t continue to learn and ask questions (which I make a point to do often, as anyone who knows me has discovered).

IB teaches you to step out of your comfort zone

Before I started my IB classes, I would never have dreamed of speaking up in a theory of knowledge (TOK) class and telling everyone what I thought. It just wasn’t something I was comfortable with, and I didn’t think that would change. But with great teachers and mentors, I’ve been encouraged to go beyond what I thought I could. And I am not only a better student because of it, I’m a better person.

Kristin Waites is a recent graduate of Baylor University with a BA in Professional Writing. She graduated from the IB Diploma Programme at Garland High School, US, in 2012. Kristin is using her degree to pursue a career in publishing and hopes her writing will help other IB graduates pursue their passions as well.

  • Dr. Sharon Ross

    Kristin is currently working at MIT!!!

  • yparah

    Are you sure that IB makes you curious?

  • knwaites

    Hi! I really think it does, especially when compared to standard high school classes. I found that my teachers encouraged me to ask questions about any and everything, which was a big factor to me. The openness of the classes was important too. There were definitely times when we just had to learn things that would be on the exams, but overall I felt that wasn’t the focus. What has your experience been?

  • Serena

    Dear Kristin, currently I am in my final year of the IBD and I couldn’t help but feel that your experience with the IBD has been vastly different from mine. While I can agree on your first point on worldliness, in my experience, the IB diploma has made me feel irrelevant and restricted. With nearly every contribution in class, I was told that I was wrong which then discouraged me to ask questions or speak up when I had something to say. The forced assortment of subjects made me feel that I was wasting my time, and my hard work seemed to never pay off. I understand that the IBD has had an overall beneficial impact on many, but I can honestly say that I have never felt more useless than I do now. Thank you for taking the time to read this, Serena.

  • knwaites

    Hi Serena! I’m sorry to hear that – I hope that you don’t continue to feel discouraged, but I know it can be frustrating when it feels like you’re being boxed in. Teachers are only people, and you shouldn’t let something one person says change how your feel about yourself 🙂 I hope you don’t let the negative part of your experience taint what you’ve gained from the program – It took a while for me to reconcile some of those negatives with the parts I enjoyed, but I’ve been overall happier with the program since. And remember that, if anything, you’ll definitely benefit from the rigor of the IBD as you begin to pursue whatever your plans are after graduation!

    Good luck with your exams!

  • Serena

    Thank you very much! I am hoping once the program is over it can help me appreciate life much better as a whole.

  • Chana Jackson-Traylor

    Congratulations Kristin! I enjoyed reading your article, as I research academia options for my three daughters. Moreso than the article, the nature in which you have responded to the comments of the post, with depth of knowledge and compassion is great. Good Luck on your new adventure at MIT.

  • Chana Jackson-Traylor

    Congratulations Kristin! I really enjoyed reading your article, it has provided me much insight as I research academia options for my three daughters. Moreso than the article, the nature in which you have responded to the comments of the posts, with depth of knowledge and compassion is amazing. Good Luck on your new opportunity at MIT.

  • knwaites

    Hi Chana! Thanks for all your kind words, and I’m glad you enjoyed reading the article! 🙂 You should definitely consider the IB program for your daughters – though it can be difficult, it really is great!