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The three big life-lessons I took to university

Alumnus Sobina Yu looks back at the Diploma Programme (DP) one year after graduation. She discovers that the biggest rewards of the programme are the skills she developed to tackle challenges she has yet to encounter. This is ­­her first story in our graduate voices series.

The three big life-lessons I took to university

By Sobina Yu

My time in the Diploma Programme (DP) was not the easiest. It was filled with missteps and failure but also growth, persistence and hard work. Despite the challenges, I really did improve as a student during the DP. I can analyze texts and write more thoughtfully and effectively now. As a university student, I now know that the things I learned in the DP continue to help me to this day.

There are three big things I’ve taken away from my experience in the IB—but I would also like to take this time to give one important piece of advice to anyone reading this: It is okay to fail. It is through failures where one can learn how to be more resilient. Never be afraid to seek help. Asking for help won’t make you weak. It’s actually such a strong move to open up to your friends—I know how hard this can be. In my opinion, the phrase, “work hard,” is wrong. It should be, “work hard, but make sure you are working smart too”.

1. Question and analyze

“IB reconstructed my idea of what it’s like to have a quality education”

More than learning calculus, organic chemistry or genetics, I believe that the soft skills that the IB taught me mattered more. If I need to find facts, the Internet or YouTube will always be there to rescue me. I consider learning these soft skills as essential because these are the skills that I couldn’t learn in a textbook and can only learn through experiences. I’m very grateful to IB because it gave me the right platform to cultivate these soft skills.

In relation to the academic world, my IB experience taught me that I should be more concerned with research and application, instead of memorizing facts. This is evident with the existence of data booklets that are allowed during examinations. Because of this, IB reconstructed my idea of what it’s like to have a quality education. As a future educator, I know I will be focused on asking students, “why and how”. Through the IB, I was able to learn that quality time matters more than the quantity of time.

We must ask ourselves: What are we going to do with copious amounts of time if we are not focused on the things we want to achieve?

Through my IB studies, I learned how to keep my priorities in check. It’s true that time management is important for the success of your IB journey, but in my opinion, society views time management as if time is a limitless quantity where people have the luxury to balance their activities. However, in a situation where time is limited and there are so many things that you have to do to keep a balanced life, sometimes you really have no choice but to set your own priorities. I believe that IB taught me how to properly manage the little time that I have in order to get good grades but still maintain good mental health. Honestly, when I was reviewing for my external examinations, I would usually take the evening off on Saturdays just to go to Bonifacio Global City to unwind.

2. Be an empathetic communicator

“I choose to be the one to bring about change in my community”

The DP’s creativity, activity, service (CAS) taught me several principles I keep with me to this day—have good communication and organizational skills, and be a leader and team player at the same time.

CAS also showed me how to be more emphatic to other people’s experiences. This characteristic—being able to sympathize with the situations of other people—was a very important skill for me to learn. For example, in the past I mistakenly thought that people who incurred failing marks were lazy and irresponsible. I presupposed that they had never worked hard or had just relied on their parents. The world is just more complex than I assumed—people juggle other priorities or have situations in their lives that block them from success. As a humanitarian and aspiring teacher, it was vitally important for me to learn how to be understanding and supportive.

Today, instead of waiting for change to occur, I choose to be the one to bring about change in my community. I learned how to both open my eyes and mind to solutions and serve as a bridge for others to do the same.

3. Practice resiliency and accountability

“Even though I am a champion, there are still a lot of things that I didn’t know and had yet to learn”

The IB programme deeply challenged my mental resilience. I’m really grateful that the IB humbled me in ways that I had never experienced before. Through this programme, I was forced to acknowledge that even though I am a champion, there are still a lot of things that I didn’t know and had yet to learn.

As an aspiring scientist, humility is one of the most important things I have to continue to learn. It is through humility that we concede that there are so many questions left unanswered, that the first, second or even third solution might be wrong and that we may make mistakes since integrity is everything to the scientific world.

It also allows me to sit back and hear ideas from other people, as I believe that we all can learn from each other.

Even though, technically speaking, my IB journey ended a year ago now, I am still using all of the life lessons that I learned in this programme. I still continue to keep the ideals that I gained, such as maintaining the connection to CAS because I know it’s significance. I am forever grateful for everything that I had learned from this programme.

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Sobina Yu is currently a college freshman taking up biomedical engineering because she believes that physics, mathematics and engineering have the power to improve the current medical treatment and diagnosis being given to patients. She plans to achieve this goal by developing better imaging devices, determining the appropriate radiation doses for cancer cases and creating synthetic human organs. Sobina is not only a science geek, as everyone thought. On top of her hectic schedule every day, she always finds time to do oil painting, study European languages and travel. Most importantly, she has strong advocacy on different social and environmental issues, most especially those that concern the human rights and access to quality education. Lastly, she hopes to one day be an astronaut and has a passion for space medicine.

To hear more from Diploma Programme (DP) graduates check out these IB programme stories. If you are an IB grad and want to share your story, write to us at We appreciate your support in sharing IB stories and invite you to connect with us on LinkedIn, Twitter Instagram and YouTube!

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