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.

3 thoughts on “Mindfulness Matters: Is the IB Diploma worth the all-nighters?

  1. Former IB student and IB Diploma holder here. In my experience, IB helped better prepare me for college in ways unlike those peers I heard from that had not gone through the same rigorous high school course load. Truth be told, though, I did pull a lot of all-nighters, but several were due to procrastination or poor planning. By the time high school ended, I felt exhausted and too burnt out to go straight into my undergrad program. So I instead took the fall semester off and enrolled to start spring semester Freshmen year. With all of the college credits I earned through IB and AP exams, I was still able to finish with my Bachelors a semester early, so I only had to pay for and attend 3 years of college.

    Overall, it was hectic and I felt my mental health took a bit of a hit during high school, but ultimately, I felt college was a breeze due to my IB experiences.

    Good luck!

    1. Vivian Wang – Updated bio: Vivian Wang is an incoming freshman exploring computer science, journalism, and foreign languages at Stanford University. Although Vivian won't be as active on HSI, she'll still be writing in college, so be sure to follow her journey on LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com/in/visitvivian)! High school bio: Vivian Wang is a Los Angeles Times High School Insider Student Advisory Board Member and a junior at Valencia High School in Placentia, California studying to earn her International Baccalaureate Diploma. In Vivian's free time, she loves to tune into podcasts (favorite right now is Techsetters!), bake chocolate chip cookies, teach dance, visit Disneyland, play badminton, code, and write. While in middle school, Vivian enjoyed being the Editor for the Food and Travel Section of her schoolwide newspaper and discovered the various facets of journalism and how writing can connect to all facets of life. She now writes for her school's online magazine, El Tigre. Vivian especially enjoys winding down after a long day at school and drafting articles for her column, Mindfulness Matters, a column that highlights ways that high school students can maintain mindfulness, self-care, and mental well-being through the chaos of high school. Bytes of Tech is Vivian's second column, a column highlighting the bridge of the gender gap in STEM and the role of technology in Generation Z. As a journalist fanatic, community service enthusiast, and STEM geek, Vivian enjoys fusing her passions, especially expressing her passion for her nonprofit, Linens N Love, and STEM through her column titled Bytes of Tech. In the future, Vivian aspires to write for the technology section of the Los Angeles Times. Vivian's work with Linens N Love, STEM, and the Los Angeles Times HS Insider has garnered her recognition as a 2020 General Motors STEM Changemaker, 2021 United Nations Ambassador, 2020 George H.W. Bush Points of Light Inspiration Honor Roll Honoree, 2018 DHL Youth Fellow, 2019 & 2020 United States Presidential Volunteer Service Gold Award Winner, 2020 National Center for Women & Information Technology Winner, 2020 Writer's Digest Annual Competition Winner, 2019 WE Day California Guest Speaker, and 2019 & 2020 College Board AP Scholar.
      Vivian Wang says:

      Hi Brent! Thank you for the comment! Wow, smart move on taking the fall semester off. I think it’s so important to value mental health just as much as my education.

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