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Five things I would have done differently

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

By Ruth Donaliya Mwangase

I often think about what I could do differently if I had the chance to go through the IB Diploma Programme (DP) experience again. I have come to realize that over half of the stressful moments I had could have been easily avoided. Given the chance, these are the top five things I would do differently today.

1. Plan ahead

Ruth Mwangase 200t

Ruth Donaliya Mwangase received her IB Diploma from Sussex Coast College Hastings .

Having lived in Germany for the last five years, I have come to embrace the importance of planning. A meticulous plan with achievable and measurable goals boosts efficiency.

Looking back, I think I blindly went through semesters and let the assignments and exams overwhelm me when they all hit at the same time. If I could do the DP again, I would create a calendar of all my deadlines and important events and subsequently map out study plans.

2. Time management

A good plan will do you very little favors if you lack the time management skills to efficiently execute your plans. Breezing through Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS), lectures, Internal Assessments, SATs and university applications can seem like an impossible task. A decent plan that allows you to dedicate enough time to each commitment will also leave room for enough rest and little or no stress – something I wish I knew then.

The IB Diploma is not nearly half as hard as people say it is, with proper time-management and planning, this could be the best and most defining time of your adolescent life.

3. Maximization of summer break

I remember being highly proud of myself for not only using the summer of 2010 to volunteer at one of the top law firms in my country, but also for completing the first draft of my Extended Essay. While I did do quite a lot of work during my summer, I wish I had also focused on planning for my second year of the DP.  Once the year began, I was soon almost drowned in Internal Assessments, English Literature Oral Exams and the Theory of Knowledge (TOK) essay. The summer break is a perfect opportunity to catch up on all the work that has been piling up. Use it to get ahead.

4. Learn

One of the beauties of the IB Diploma curriculum is that it covers a variety of interesting and applicable topics in whatever subject you choose. I realized very early during my first year at university that I was ahead of most of my classmates because I had covered some of the course content during the DP. I hated myself for not remembering everything I had learnt during the DP and I wished that I had not been too quick to forget these things once I had written my final IB exams.

Given the chance to do the DP again, I would absorb all the knowledge like a sponge and I would safely keep this knowledge in a place where I would not forget it. I would enjoy learning about Shakespearean literature and analyzing Russian literature with a diverse class that offers rich interpretations. I would enjoy learning how to swim during CAS activities and I would definitely appreciate having the opportunity to receive a well rounded and relevant education.

5. Enjoy the experience

Most importantly, I would enjoy the whole IB adventure. The IB Diploma is not nearly half as hard as people say it is, with proper time-management and planning, this could be the best and most defining time of your adolescent life. Live and enjoy the full IB experience.

Ruth Donaliya Mwangase completed the IB Diploma Programme at Sussex Coast College Hastings. She is currently pursuing an MSc in Business Administration at Hamburg School of Business Administration following her BA in Economics at Jacobs University in Bremen. Ruth loves classical literature, traveling and engaging in conversations about global issues.