Students looking ahead to elite athletic careers have new options available to extend their studies in the Diploma Programme (DP). At IB World Schools certified as Athlete Friendly Education Centers (AFEC) by the World Academy of Sport, student-athletes may have the option extend their studies to complete the IB diploma in three or four years to accommodate a full-time training schedule.
To accommodate training and competition schedules Athlete Friendly Education Centres (AFEC), accredited by the World Academy of Sport, offer students the ability to extend their Diploma Programme (DP) studies to better fit their needs as an student-athlete’s. Mark Swainston is a graduate of the Island School and is now a professional football player based in Hong Kong.
Mark shares his experience undertaking the IB diploma extension and offers advice for students considering this path in the Q&A below.
“The three-year extension gave me the opportunity to pursue my dream of playing professional football … and achieve an IB diploma”
How useful was your IB extension and what did it allow you to accomplish?
The three-year extension gave me the opportunity to pursue my dream of playing professional football while simultaneously receiving the necessary time to study hard and achieve an IB diploma. It was an experience I am extremely grateful for.
As a result of the three-year extension, I was able to train and compete alongside top professional players and coaches almost daily. This helped me gain valuable match experience and allowed me to really develop my skills and grow a lot as a player. Additionally, the extension gave me the chance to appropriately deal with the heavy workload IB can offer. Consequently, I achieved a score I’m happy with and a score that has enabled me to get into the university of my choice.
I am currently enjoying my fourth year playing professional football and my second-year playing full time. I am pleased with the progress thus far but still constantly striving for improvement and continue to work hard towards earning more opportunities to enhance myself as a footballer.
“Every single teacher I talked to was extremely supportive and understanding of my situation and did their best to help solve any issues I had”
What is some advice you could share for future student-athletes choosing this route?
My advice for students also pursuing athletic careers would be: If you ever feel drained, remember that you’re doing what you love and that should be enough motivation to keep pushing forward. However, it is vital to take the necessary time to rest and recover in order to maintain the high standards of an elite athlete. It may mean sacrificing time with friends to freshen up for upcoming work.
Also, remember that your teachers are here to help. If you ever think the workload is too much, talk to your teachers. From past experience, every single teacher I talked to was extremely supportive and understanding of my situation and did their best to help solve any issues I had. Although you’re given a lot of freedom with the three-year extension, remember to use your time wisely.
Keep sport and academics separate. Focus on one and then on the other. Don’t let one distract you from the other because both are necessary for the future.
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