A Letter to my IB Juniors

*originally posted on my old blog on March 7, 2016

I wrote “A Letter to my IB Seniors” about two months ago and got some requests for tips for IB Juniors as well, so here it is!

I know the seniors are getting their college acceptances back right now and are planning for events like gradbash and prom and it just seems like you’re struggling for nothing. Junior year in IB is rather uneventful. It’s like it’s hard enough so that you know you’re an upperclassman but you have so long until you graduate it just feels like you’re going to be working this hard forever. I promise you, your senior year is around the corner and once it’s over, it’ll feel like it flew by.
In the meantime, here are some tips for your survival.
1) USE that agenda that you bought in the beginning of the school year and stopped paying attention to in September. Even if you use your phone, I promise that there is no feeling like being able to physically cross something off of a checklist.
2) Make sure that you are on top of your schedule. With so many things going on, it can feel like days are a blur. Make sure you’re keeping track of everything you do so you don’t miss any practices, meetings, or assignments.
3) Make the effort to talk to your teachers! They each have hundreds of students that they are responsible for grading and will most likely forget about things they said they’d do for you. (But DON’T pester them) This applies for your work too! If you’re having issues with something, most will stay after class or will let you make an appointment to go over something).
4) Sign up to take both the SAT and the ACT. Take them both once and then compare your scores, whichever one you do the best on, take once or twice more until you feel you’ve reached an ideal score. I took the SAT three times and jumped from an 1860 to a 2110, so don’t skip that third time just because you don’t feel like retesting. It makes a huge difference.
5) Start narrowing down your choices for the schools you’re going to apply for. I’d say 10-15 schools is a good place to be right now and 6-8 schools is the right amount to apply to. Make sure you have a mix of reach schools (schools that you have a chance of getting into but are very risky), on-target schools (schools that you fit the qualifications for but are still slightly risky), and backup schools (schools that you are overqualified for and will for sure get into.) For the average IB student in Florida, reach schools would be Ivy Leagues, on-target schools would be UF, FSU, UCF, and USF, and backup schools would be local in-state schools like FIU and Nova (not that there is anything wrong with wanting to attend these schools, they typically offer full rides to IB students). A great book to get if you’re completely lost is The Princeton Review’s 377 Best Colleges, it has overviews of the best 377 schools in the US with feedback from students.
6) Start studying for your APs. A lot of AP tests double as IB tests, and if you’re going to a state school then you could pass the AP version of certain tests and not have to put so much pressure on yourself to pass the IB version in your senior year. And personally, I found AP easier than IB (but I think I’m one of the only people with that opinion).
7) Start your Extended Essay over the summer. The Extended Essay is single-handedly the most annoying part of IB. If you piece it up and write it over the summer, not only will you not have to deal with it at the same time as a million other things, but you will have time to get it reviewed by teachers and turn in quality work. Or you could just write it the week before and get a D like I did. 🙂
8) Start paying attention to the emails from Ms. Mamby (or if you don’t attend Miramar High School, whoever your college counselor is) as soon as you get them. There are great scholarships in there that too often go unclaimed. Also, apply for small scholarships! They usually take less effort than the more well-known scholarships and they add up really quickly! Don’t write them off.
9) Save money. Save all of it. Your senior year is so expensive, especially if you want to participate in the activities. And college… well let’s just say I’m more broke right now than I was my senior year.
10) Start drafting your resume and have a trusted teacher or advisor look at it. If you can get an English/humanities teacher to look at it that would be even better because they know the most about making language more effective. College resumes are not the time to be humble. Sell yourself. Make sure you let your admissions board know about the positive change you’ve influenced in every organization that you were a part of. Fluff it up, but don’t fib.
Those are ten pretty basic tips that will help ensure your survival for the next year or so. If there’s anything that I didn’t mention or that you want me to cover in more depth feel free to Facebook or Twitter message me, as well as email me at crystalmcduffy24@ufl.edu. Hope this helped!

xo -Crys.

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