High school students and sleepless nights are two phrases that are virtually synonymous. (Photo courtesy of CollegeDegree360 / Flickr)
Valencia High School

Mindfulness Matters: Is the IB Diploma worth the all-nighters?

Mindfulness Matters is a column by Vivian Wang that highlights the simple ways that she maintains mindfulness and self-care through the treacherous, life-changing journey of high school. In this week’s article, Vivian shares about her experiences as an International Baccalaureate student. 

The International Baccalaureate Diploma — long answer short — is worth the sleepless nights of studying.

If you asked freshman year me, I’d say no, but ask junior year me and I say yes. When high schoolers think of “IB,” the thoughts of getting no sleep, calculating what grade you have to get to pass the class with a minimum of 90% and playing the “what score did you get on the exam?” game floods the minds of prospective IB students. 

As a junior in the International Baccalaureate program, I believe that IB is nothing like these common misconceptions. On a typical school night, I go to sleep at around 10:30 p.m. with all of my schoolwork and studying completely finished to allow for time for extracurricular activities.

Countless high schoolers compete with one another to see who can pull an “all-nighter” — a sleepless night — but I think that avoiding sleep on weeknights is not a feat that should be applauded. 

The idea of “wasting time” by getting eight hours of continuous sleep on a daily basis has been associated with not being competitive enough, as many of my peers look down upon sleeping anytime before midnight. When my peers ask me what time I go to bed, I tell them 10:30 and many of them laugh at me as if I am lazy and doubt how it’s possible to excel in school when so many hours are spent sleeping. 

Sleeping eight hours or more has been deemed a sign of weakness and luxury in the IB community at my school, but I think that if anything, getting eight hours of sleep demonstrates an ability and determination to balance health and academic life on a regular basis. 

This common mindset of wasting time by getting enough sleep is detrimental as IB students are trading their health for the sake of staying up late. I have never understood the sound reasoning behind staying up late since one’s productivity only declines as they function on little to no sleep.

Aeries, the app that students use to check their grades, is a typical high schooler’s most used app. I have friends whose phone battery gets drained so quickly because they spend 50% of their battery refreshing the Aeries app many times throughout the day as if their grades will change drastically. 

IB students often find themselves on the Aeries app calculating what grade they have to get on the next exam to maintain their perfect GPA. Although I’m also a frequent user of the Aeries app, I avoid using the grade calculator function as I regularly remind myself that I chose to enroll in the IB program to explore a well-rounded education, rather than simply taking these courses to get an A in the class. 

I appreciate and embrace the values of the IB program as it means so much more than a report card. IB students are responsible for writing a 4,000 word extended essay research paper about a field of their choice, immersing themselves in creativity, action, and service activities under the CAS (Creativity, Action, Service) program, completing several internal assessment papers and exams, making a culminating 15 minutes Theory of Knowledge presentation, and completing six Higher Level and Standard Level IB courses. 

Each one of these components of the IB program is so delicately chosen and structured in that it has immersed me in countless fields to shape me into a well-rounded, global citizen. For instance, the CAS program is a well-thought-out program because it promotes the idea of creativity, athleticism, and service, all while maintaining a rigorous academic mindset that prepares the IB candidate students for college. 

More than anything, the IB program has taught me the importance of a balance of life, especially balancing school, family time, social life, and extracurriculars. 

I have never experienced an all-nighter in my life and I have no plans to do so. Pulling all-nighters shouldn’t be glorified and expected by IB high schoolers. On most school nights, students should take advantage of those light homework days and give themselves the much needed and deserved eight hours of sleep that they deserve. Managing time, starting homework as soon as possible, and planning out the day helps to guarantee that an IB student will not have to pull an all-nighter. 

Participating in the IB program in high school is so much more than the six letters that we see for the semester grades. Once students put sleep as an important priority, they will see that they can accomplish so much more in the day and retain more learning.