Why you Shouldn’t be a Rebel?

Yesterday, I was walking around campus and saw two girls smoking weed right next to the bus stop in broad daylight. I started talking to them and they seemed nice. As we started heading to a local cafe to grab something to eat, we came across two police men. This two girls started smoking weed right in front of him and mocking him. I asked them why they were doing this. Their response was, “we are doing this to stand up against police brutality and for homeless people”. So this post is going to be a PSA about why doing things like what this girls did is a really bad idea.

When I was 13, I used to be a rebel. I did every single thing that I could come up with on the list to try to get expelled. I skipped class, I talked back to teachers, and I used to have pink hair. I used to be one of those “social justice warriors” before it became cool. I’ve been there, done that, and probably mastered it. So trust me when I say that I know what the “rebel” and “hippie” lifestyle is like.

And what I also know is that this lifestyle will most likely not make you happy. You will not make any significant changes in this world, you will make a lot of people hate you, and you are more likely than not will eventually get in trouble for all of your shenanigans. Smoking weed in front of the police officer is not cool. It’s stupid. In fact, rebelling against a police officer, who’s simply doing his job, is stupid. Your statement against “police brutality” is not going to help homeless or black people. The only thing that it will do is potentially get you locked up in prison. If you actually want to make a difference, you can volunteer, make a petition, organize a political movement, and do a variety of other things that do not involve you harassing a police officer, burning other people’s property, or doing other destructive things to other people. If you want to make a real impact in this world, learn how to play by the rules before you can break them.

Also, realize that those people that you are fighting for do not care about you. If you get hurt, those homeless people will not help you. If you get in trouble with the law, they will not help you. And if you want to get a head in life, they will not help you. In fact, from my experience, it’s more likely that a successful person will be willing to help you than a random person who you see bagging for money on the street. People are primarily selfish. They do not care about you. Therefore, why should you put yourself at risk, helping people who do not care about you? That makes no logical sense, is crazy, and a waist of your precious time that you do not have a lot of. (Just to make this part clear, it is a good idea to help your friends, your family, and other people who you know will help you. Also, helping people who actually want to do something with their lives is an incredibly rewarding experience and can pay back in the future. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t help others. All I’m saying is that it should be a benefit for you and shouldn’t put you at risk.)

Not only is being a rebel a futile endeavor, it also comes from a place of pain rather than happiness. You are rebelling not because you are so happy with your life but because you don’t feel like you fit in, you feel angry at the world, and this is your way of making yourself feel better. You are in misery. This behavior doesn’t help you grow, become a better human being, or become successful. Instead of rebelling, you should find a group of people that you can belong with, activities that you like doing, and things that you are good at. Fitting in will make you much happier than standing out. Focus on making friends, studying, getting into a good college (if you are still in high school), or on building up your skills and on your future career (if you are in college). At the end of the day, focusing on becoming the best version of yourself will be a much more fulfilling activity than rebelling against society or trying to make social statements about the police.

So my advice to you rebels and trouble makers is to focus on something more productive in your life. You will be happier, you will have more friends, and you will make more of an impact in this world.

XOXO

 

Katy Bronsk

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How to Not Get Stressed Out throughout the Semester

This semester had been incredibly smooth and calm for me so far. Even though the midterms are coming, I feel collected and in control. Everything seems to fall into place and the stars seem to be aligning. So in this post, I will share some advice about how to get into such a state in College or High School so that you don’t end up freaking out the week before exams.

1.) Cut Down on Procrastination and Social Media

I know, you love Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and probably can’t imagine your life without it. Which is why I’m saying “cut down on it” instead of “eliminate it.” Although “eliminating it” would be ideal.

By “cut down on it”, I mean that you should not be checking it every 5 minutes while you are studying or sitting down in class. This behavior will make you unhappy in the long run because you will not be in control of your life. Check it when you are taking a study break or (ideally) once a day before you go to sleep. If you have to use social media as a tool to organize your extra curricular obligations, promote a certain product, etc… than use it for those purposes only and set up specific times during the day for that type of social media use. If you just can’t keep your hands off of social media, than download a website blocker and block every social media website on your laptop for the time periods when you will be studying (and lock your phone away as well, of course).

Once the social media problem is resolved, half of the battle with procrastination will be won. The other half is not watching YouTube videos instead of doing work, talking to people, and entertaining yourself in other ways. To clarify, you can (and should) do all of those activities. Just not when you are studying. This type of multi tasking will only cause procrastination, force you to do everything at the last minute, and inevitably lead to stress. In order to stop yourself from procrastinating, remove as many distractions as possible, establish a special environment for studying, and if all else fails, find a friend to scream at you every time you decide to procrastinate.

2.) Make Yourself Look Presentable

No. I’m not suggesting that you should wear a suit every day to class or make yourself look like a Victoria’s Secret model.

All I’m saying is that you should look neat. This means that you should not through on the first thing you see lying around in your room. Make sure that whatever you choose to wear doesn’t look like something that you went to sleep in (Yes. There are some people who actually look like this at my university).  Make sure that you brushed your hair, your clothes are clean, and everything in your bag is somehow organized.

The point of doing this is NOT to attract attention or to make you look attractive in front of someone you like. In my personal opinion, you shouldn’t worry too much about that issue in High School/College anyways. The point is to make yourself feel organized and “put together”. Doing this is much easier when you look the part than when you don’t.

And yes, you should also keep your room clean. Being in a clean environment will help you feel more organized.

3.) Establish a Routine

This is probably one of the most important items on this list. You should create a rough schedule for when you are going to work on your assignments and stick with it. This schedule should not be too strict because things will come up that you will need to take care off and too strict of a schedule will make you feel stressed out when those issues come up. However, having no routine will cause for your life to be all over the place, which is equally as bad.

Look at your schedule and decide when you can dedicate a certain amount of hours on studying each day. If you have a long term project (academic or otherwise) that you are working on, include it in your “schedule” and commit on working on it at least 3 times/week. If you are in High School, this part will be easy because most likely, you will have time to do homework after you come home from school. If in college, you will have more freedom of studying whenever so use this freedom wisely and study when you feel the most focused during the day. If you have a new extra curricular activity, part time job, or any other commitment that you want to add to your life, revise your schedule to include that activity.

You should allocate enough time for studying so that you can always be caught up with all of your readings and have most of your writing assignments/homework done a day in advance. You should also allocate some time for ongoing unassigned practice of the course material. If you do this, studying for the actual tests will not take that much time. With all of this said, I would not recommend going as far as allocating time for studying each specific subject. You might simply not have anything to do during a certain day and doing something simply for the sake of doing something is a waist of your time.

4.) Don’t Over Think

When it comes to academics, don’t make your life harder than it has to be and stick to the rubric. Do what you know is expected of you. Do not spend too much time crafting a perfect short story if your goal is to get an A and it doesn’t have to be perfect for you to get that goal. Don’t get passionate or attached to your academic work. You are not getting graded on”passion”. You are getting graded on standards and benchmarks that you must match. No one, except for your teacher, will read your work. Your work is mostly meaningless and is there for you to build up your skills, not to make significant contributions. Don’t spend too much time thinking about each specific assignment. Simply get it done, make sure that it matches the standards, and move on to doing something else. If you are obsessing too much over your academic work, it means that you have too much free time on your hands and you should get yourself another hobby, a part time job, an extra curricular activity, or anything else that’s productive and that you will find more significant to stop this behavior.

Just to clarify, I’m not saying to not take your academic work seriously. In fact, you should take it seriously and do all of your assignments thoroughly. However, there is no need to obsess over one assignment for days and days. In fact, doing this will most likely cause for you to have a lower grade on that assignment. So do your work, edit it, check the rubric, submit it, and move on.

5.) Have a balance of activities, not just academics

In order to resolve point #4, you should start doing things outside of academics. You are probably thinking that this advice will make you more stressed out because you will have more work to do. However, I found the opposite to be true. Having a hobby that you can focus on, a club that you attend, a part time job, etc… will help you 1.) get experience on your resume, which will decrease your stress later when you will be looking for a job or a summer internship (or help you with college admissions if you are still in high school 2.) do something that you enjoy and take your mind off of academics 3.) help you get out of the house and talk to people 4.) stop you from over thinking your school work and 5.) have experience with the “real world” outside of academia.

For specific activities, I would recommend doing 1-2 major/career related activities (or activities such as community service that will help you get into college if you are still in High School. Yes. I am including part time jobs and internships in this category) and 1 activity that you find “fun” so that you can relax. This is what you should do at minimum. If you find yourself having too much free time as mentioned in point #4, you should get yourself another activity. I’m using the term “activity” loosely here and don’t mean just extra curricular activities but also internships, part time jobs, hobbies that you might do alone at home, etc… If you are doing the IB program, than obviously you will already have guidelines in terms of extra curricular activities that you will have to follow. I have already described my advice on that in my post on IB so follow that guideline instead.

6.) Hang out with Friends

Even if you have a lot of school work to do, you should not allow for that to stop you from having social interactions. Going out with friends will allow for you to get advice, encouragement, and much needed social interaction in the week. Your friends will help you feel less stressed out. I usually hang out with friends a minimum of once a week. Again, I’m using the term “friends” loosely here and mean “anyone who you want to talk to”. For you, it might be going out to parties and meeting random people, speaking with a mentor, or going out to a restaurant with your best friend. Basically, you should have at least one “social” activity a week. This will help you get out of the library/house and not turn into a socially awkward person.

7.) Think of Education as You Becoming the Best Version of Yourself

Now that I am done with the more practical items on this long list, I am moving on to more of “things that I think about to remain chill through out the semester” type of items.

The most important thing that you should do in order to stop yourself from stressing out about schoolwork is to start thinking of the education process differently. Instead of thinking about how you “must get a certain grade”, think of it as a process of you becoming the best version of yourself and your grades being there to help you reflect on what you did wrong. This doesn’t mean that you forget about grades. You still pay attention to them and do your best to get the highest grades that you can get. You are still striving for excellence. However, you are focusing on the process of studying, completing assignments, and improving in order to get good grades rather than on the actual grades. Once you get a score on the test, you reflect on what you did wrong and change your studying/test taking strategy. You don’t start freaking out over your GPA or stressing out about needing to get all 100s on other tests to get an A. You concentrate on learning, not making the same mistakes again, and becoming the best version of yourself. If the subject is actually significant and you enjoy it, than you focus on doing your best for that reason. If it’s a stupid elective, than you think of the class as teaching you how to complete assignments on time, improve your time management skills, and soft skills of figuring out what the teacher wants you to say.

If you always do your best, good grades will follow and you will have nothing to worry about.

NOTE: point #4 is still valid. You do your best on assignments but you don’t over think them. You think of them as “practice” and “work that helps you become better” not as “masterpieces that I need to spend countless hours perfecting”.

8.) Don’t Compare Yourself to Others

Your focus should be internal (on yourself) not external. You shouldn’t care about what other students are doing, what grades they have, and wether or not they interned at Facebook this summer. Their life is the their life. Your life is your life. You don’t know for how long they have been getting good at something, if they have connections at those firms, and other circumstances in their lives. Instead, you focus on comparing yourself with yourself, looking at wether or not you are making improvements, and wether or not you are achieving your own, individual goals. Yes. You should ask what other people are doing in order to get ideas about what you should be doing. However, they should be just ideas and not what you “absolutely must do to be successful”.

9.) Focus on What you Can Control

You do not think about “what if” scenarios or complain about what happened in the past. You can’t change the past and you can only react to situations as they arise. You can’t change global events. Therefore, you should not worry about them. This should apply to everything that you do in your life but because we are discussing academics (college/high school life) here, I will apply this concept to academics.

For example, if you got an F in a class during your first semester, that sucks but their is nothing you can do about it now. Therefore, worrying about it now makes no sense. You can’t control or change the past. What happened, happened. Let go and move on. Also, you do not spend a lot of time thinking about how you will do a certain academic program or assignment, unless you are actually in that program or working on that assignment. You don’t start worrying about the IB Program at the beginning of 10th Grade. Why? because you are not yet doing that program. You think and address  everything when it comes up not when it might come up.

So this are the main points about what I do this semester to remain calm and in control. A lot of those points will probably help you become a better student as well. Just remember that stress is an emotion that (just like any other emotion) you are in control of (or you can learn to be in control of).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Should You do Your Homework?

I’m not a teacher and this blog is mostly focused on expressing my opinion about the education system. So, no, I will not make a statement about how “you should always do your homework”. Doing that is simply a waist of your precious time, which you do not have a lot of. With this said, never doing your homework is also an awful idea. So in this post, I will outline when I consider it being logical to do the homework/readings and how thorough they should be done.

When Should you do your Homework?

  • When you know that your teacher will grade it or check it. Yes. If your teacher will not give you a grade on the homework but you know that she will check if everyone had done it, you should still do it. Not doing it, will make the teacher dislike you, which will cause for you to get a lower grade in the class. (Unless you know that the class is graded externally or all exams are multiple choice).
  • If the class is more focused on problem solving/application of knowledge, rather than memorization. For example, you should do your math or accounting homework. However, if it’s psychology and your teacher will not check it, feel free to skip.
  • If the class actually has significance to your real life.
  • If there is a lot of material in class that you know it will be hard to catch up on.
  • If you are trying to turn around your “bad girl” image and want to get the teacher to like you. Doing homework and than asking for help from the teacher (even if you don’t need it),

When Should you not do your Homework?

  • When you have something more important happening than school work. For example, if you have an interview with Facebook coming up, it’s way more important than one homework or reading assignment. Even if that assignment will be graded (assuming it’s a small percentage of your grade), skip it and focus on the interview.
  • When it’s busy work and you know that your homework will not be checked.
  • For the readings, if you know that all of your tests are based on the lectures, don’t bother doing the homework. Likewise, if you know that all of your tests are based on the readings, feel free to “check out” during class and do homework for your other classes or day dream.
  • Extra credit. Seriously, get your normal work done correctly and than you will not need extra credit.

To summarize, you do not go around doing extra work if it will not make your life better (in this case, help you get a good grade). You have or should have enough of other things to focus on apart from obsessing over doing unnecessary homework that will not help you. If you don’t, than go and join a club, get yourself a part time job or an internship, or spend more time with your family or friends. Homework that is busy work should not be the most important part of your day. If it is, you are doing something wrong.

How Thorough do you have to be?

  • When it comes to doing the readings, I would recommend actually putting the work in to making the notes on the readings. Otherwise, you will forget what you’ve read and will have to reread it before the test anyways. Which means, either don’t do them at all, or do them properly by taking notes. Don’t waist your time. And yes, this notes should be thorough, neat, and readable by you. 
  • For busy work assignments that you know will be graded, do the minimum amount of work to get an A.
  • For math, do it thoroughly and make sure you understand everything (unless the problems are so easy that it turns into busy work). 
  • For classes that will not relate to your life, do the minimum amount of work. 

Basically, ask yourself if the class matters, if it’s a challenging class, and if the homework will help you do well in it. If yes, put the effort into doing it and seek to understand. If not, do the absolute bare minimum to get a good grade for the homework. Feel free to google the answers, ask your trusted friends for them, etc… 

Audience and Purpose of Essays

When a copywriter writes and advertisement, he considers his target audience and tailors his writing to them in order to increase sales or brand awareness. When screenwriters at Disney write a script for a new movie, they also consider their audiences. So if all of those important people and companies consider their audience and purpose, doesn’t it make sense for you to do the same when you are writing essays?

Most students do have some understanding about those concepts. For example, most of you probably have enough common sense not to write swear words in an academic essay (unless it’s part of a quote that you are analyzing, of course). However, a lot of people do have some misconceptions about audience and purpose of High School/College Essays.

There are a lot of different types of essays that you will write and they all require a slightly different approach. There is the essay that your teacher assigned to you, the essay that you write at home vs. the one that you write on an exam, the SAT essay, the scholarship essay, the college application essay, and probably other types of essays that I forgot to mention. For the sake of time, I will focus on essays that your teacher assigned to you as part of the course/class (I will not make the distinction about wether it’s on an exam or you have time to write at home) and college application essays (for the US). However, for all of this essays, you should consider your audience and purpose so this post applies to those as well.

An Essay that Your Teacher Assigned

Purpose: A lot of students think that the purpose of an essay is either 1.) to do research 2.) to learn something 3.) to express themselves 4.) to inform the teacher about the topic or 5.) to show the teacher what you know about the topic. All of those explanations might be accurate from the perspective of the teacher. However, we are focusing on your perspective not the teachers.

From your perspective, there are only 2 purposes for writing an essay:

  1. To get a good grade on the assignment
  2. To make your teacher like you

This means that you write what your audience (teacher) wants you to write and in a style that your audience (teacher) wants you to write it. You should focus on those two aspects more than on actually expressing your opinion on a certain topic or choosing an exciting topic to research. Save your ideas and opinions for your diary, your blog, your novel, or your collection of short stories. Feel free to express yourself freely outside of class. However, the classroom is not the time and place for you to do so.

Audience:  The audience of an essay that your teacher had assigned is obviously your teacher (Or in some cases, your TA’s). However, knowing this fact isn’t enough. You need to figure out what your audience (in this case your teacher or TA’s) like and doesn’t like.

Most teachers like:

  1. Formal, academic language and the use (overuse and abuse) of relevant jargon/key words. By key words, I mean words that she had defined or that were defined in your textbook.
  2. As much information as possible that had been covered in class.
  3. Boring, long sentence structure, word choice, organization, and tone. In fact, if you want to fall a sleep while reading your essay, you are probably doing something right.
  4. If the teacher wants to see an outline, you should submit an outline. And you should stick to that outline. Even if that means that your essay will sound unnatural.
  5. Paragraphs (this one is obvious)
  6. Introduction (can be boring, in most cases), body paragraphs (minimum of 3) and conclusion (will be even more boring than the introduction).
  7. Longer than it actually has to be. If something can be written in 10 words instead of 1, you should write it in 10. The longer you write, the better. Even if there is a word limit, teachers almost always over estimate how much you should write. So you will end up using a lot of useless words to fill up space.
  8. Whatever aligns with your teacher’s personal and political beliefs and what she thinks is the best answer. If your class contains controversial content, you choose the side of the teacher. If your teacher is a liberal, you write about how affirmative action is good, economic inequality is bad, woman are being oppressed by the patriarchy, etc… (Obviously, it should be relevant to the lesson. Don’t just list random facts that match with your teacher’s political beliefs). If your teacher has a certain interpretation of a novel and you believe in another interpretation, stick with your teacher’s interpretation. In most cases, assume that your teacher/professor/TA is liberal (Statistically speaking, there are more of them in Academia)
  9. Over explanation of the analysis. Even if something sounds like common sense, it’s always better to explain it.
  10. And of course, it should have good grammar, spelling, and match the rubric.

WARNING: This is an awful way to write anything in the real world. This advice only applies to how you should write in the classroom. Outside of school work, you should do the opposite of most items written above.

Now, what I have listed is what most teachers like/expect to see. However, there are always exceptions to the rule. Some teachers want to see counter arguments. Some, do want their students to challenge their ideas and play devil’s advocate. Some want the writing to sound pretty. For example, one of my teachers wanted all of our essays to be  poetic because she was obsessed with Shakespeare. (In this case, you better start reading Macbeth and learning poetry). Therefore, if you know who will be grading your work, you need to figure out what that person wants. If you can’t figure out who, specifically, will be grading your work (there are 10 TA’s in the class and the professor randomly hands out essays for them to grade),  stick with the outline above. It’s the safest bet.

How to Find out What Your Teacher Specifically Wants?

If you know the exact person who will be grading your work, than you are in luck. You know who to tailor your writing to. Now, what you should do is conduct “research” (figure out what your teacher wants).

There isn’t one way of going about research. Also, some methods work and others don’t in certain situations. With this said, here are some ideas of how you can go about this:

  • Ask for samples of work from previous students that got A’s. Make sure that that student was in your teacher’s class and that she is not simply handing out some old exemplars from the department.
  • Ask people who had previously been in her class about what the professor/teacher is looking for.
  • Read Ratemyprofessor.com and other websites. You might find something on them.
  • Talk to the teacher during office hours or recess (if you are in High School). No. Don’t ask your teacher, “what do you want me to write?”. That’s a stupid question. You will not get a good answer. Instead, ask for specific advice, casually talk to her to understand the type of person she is, ask her what she thinks is “good writing”/”bad writing”, etc… During this conversations, what she says is often less important than how she says it.
  • If your professor/teacher talks politics, pay attention. If your teacher emphasizes something over and over again, pay attention.
  • After you get feedback on your first assignment, make sure to read it carefully. This feedback will give you an idea about the type of writing that the teacher wants to see in the future.
  • Find a classmate who got an A on the assignment and ask to read his/her work. Chances are, at least one of the A students will agree.
  • Talk to the TA’s (if in college). They might have important insights that they might share with you.
  • Do a quick, Google search of the teacher. And no. Don’t friend your teacher on Facebook or stalk her.

College Admission Essays

Purpose: Similarly to the teacher case, the purpose of the college admission essay should not be about expressing yourself, about telling “your story”, or about being honest. There are a bit more variation when it comes to the purpose of your college admission essay (from your perspective). The purposes of the college admission essay are:

  1. For you to get accepted with an unconditional (preferably) or conditional (less preferable) offer.
  2. Get a scholarship/grant/financial aid (if this is important to you).
  3. To get directly excepted into the specific school/major/honors program, etc…

Similarly to the previous case with your teacher, this means that you have to write what your audience (admission officers) wants to read. This means that your admission essay should not be your diary or your honest account about your life. You are not trying to convey to the admission officer who you are. You are trying to convey to the admission officer what you think she wants you to be. You are trying to sell yourself and make yourself sound like the “perfect candidate” that the University wants to have. This probably will not be the real version of you. So feel free to lie (as long as it’s something that can’t be checked) in order to “sell” yourself to your audience.

Audience: Your audience are the admission officers of the University. So similarly with the previous example, you should figure out what they (most likely) want to hear. Unlike with the teachers, you will not be able to identify the actual people or person who will be reading your work. So you will have to think about the “most likely scenario”. If you are absolutely obsessed with doing research, try to find something on College Confidential or contact students that already got accepted by the University. Maybe, they will say something useful.

The admission officers most likely want to hear:

  1. About how you want to “make the world a better place” and “save the world”. Basically, make yourself sound like a nice, caring person who cares about social issues, loves volunteer work, and wants to work for a non-profit. It doesn’t matter if this story is true. However, to make it more believable, volunteer or participate in some fundraising activity at some point during your 4 years of High School. Also, keep in mind that it is extremely unlikely that the University will check the exact details of your “story”. So feel free to exaggerate the truth but don’t go over board.
  2. Leadership experience: If you had an official leadership position/title, than you are in luck. Just like with volunteer work, feel free to over exaggerate your involvement. If you did nothing extra but was named the team captain, feel free to talk about how you gave speeches to motivate your team before the games in the locker room, gave feedback to everybody after the games, helped the coach organize practice, etc… It’s extremely unlikely that the University will actually check all of those claims. If they do decide to conduct an informal “background check”, they will just ask your school “is it true that John is the team captain of the football team?” not “is it true that John gave feedback to players after every single game?”. The admission officers are human beings and human beings are lazy. They will not check every single claim and part of your “story” as long as your “story” sounds realistic.
  3. Liberal bias: Your admission officers are most likely liberals so avoid writing anything right wing.
  4. Diversity: If you are a minority, make sure to highlight that somewhere in your application. Universities are obsessed with diversity now days. This will make you look like a more attractive candidate and also lower other expectations/requirements, which will make it easier for you to get in.
  5. Special circumstances: If you were bullied as a kid, your family was poor, your parents got divorced, you were sick with a life threatening disease, your mother died, you are physically/mentally disabled, etc… make sure to include this in your essay. In fact, you might even decide to make one of these points the central part of your essay. Similarly to the other cases mentioned above, if it’s 1.) hard to check or 2.) it’s easy to check but you can come up with proof, feel free to include it. This point on it’s own will not help you get in. However, this “special circumstances” will make your other achievements sound more impressive, which will help you get in. For example, if John got a 3.9 GPA and was a captain of his Speech and Debate team, this sounds impressive but not too impressive. However, if we also know that John’s family was incredibly poor so he had to work while going to school to financially support himself, his mother was extremely ill and so he had to take care of her, he got bullied at school every day due to his families’ income, and he managed to get a 3.9 GPA and become the captain of his Speech and Debate team despite all of this adversities, all of a sudden, John’s accomplishment’s sound extremely impressive.
  6. The writing style should be better than the one you use for essays assigned by your teachers. It should not be boring.

So by this point, I’m guessing this post turned into a “college admissions essay” advice. 😀 However, the main point of this post was about how you should consider your “audience” when writing for schoolwork, just like authors consider their “audience” when writing for other purposes in life.

 

XOXO

 

Katy Bronsk

 

 

 

 

 

 

Choosing Classes

This has been my first week of my Sophomore year and I spent most of it Adding/Dropping classes to make sure that I had the schedule that I was mostly O.K. with and having the subjects that I wanted to have. Some people who are studying in Europe do not have the luxury of choosing individual classes and schedule. They simply get assigned the classes that they have to take. However, if you do have this opportunity, it will be a shame to not take advantage of it.

How Many Hours/Courses Should You Take?

This question is extremely personal and depends from person to person as well as from different situations. An easy answer will be “as many as you can handle while having a normal social life, extra curricular involvement, and (maybe) a part time job.” I have some friends who took 12 hours and always complained about having too much work. And I had other friends who took 18 hours and were fine.

This question gets more complicated if you want to graduate faster, declare a major faster, raise your GPA, transfer, or get into a certain program. In this case, you might have to take more hours than you otherwise would have been comfortable with. The transfer reason or the GPA reason are not the best ones to take on more classes and you should be cautious about doing this. It’s better to get a 4.0 taking 12 hours than a 3.0 taking 18.

Also, if you have more “hard” classes, you should take less hours. If you have more “easy” classes, you can afford to take more hours.

Maintain a Balance of Hard/Easy Classes

I know. A lot of college counselors will say that all classes are hard classes. However, this is simply not true. Some classes (such as certain electives) are simply easier. With some subjects, you might find them easier than other people because you are either naturally better at the subject or you had a background in the subject that other people might not have. Which ever the case might be, not all classes are created equal and you will find some classes easier than others.

To determine which classes are easier, you should ask other people for recommendations of easier classes and electives. You should also utilize tools such as Ratemyproffessor.com to decide on which specific class to join based on the professor. You should also assess your own strength and weaknesses and decide on what you find easy and what you find hard. If other people are saying that something is easy and you understand that this type of subject is playing to your strength, than it probably will be an easy class for you.

Once you have determined which classes are easy and which ones will be hard, you should try your best to maintain a balance of easy/hard classes. This way, you will not end up being overwhelmed during a certain semester while having nothing to do and being bored out of your mind during another semester.

Make sure to take the pre requisite classes for your degree to progress

Look at your degree planner and determine, which classes you need to take in order to declare your major, to be able to take upper level courses for your degree, to get into a class that you really want to get into, etc…. This classes should be your #1 priority. Without them, you will end up being stuck with a bunch of electives during one of your semesters and your degree will not be able to progress smoothly. This means that even if you will be stuck with an 8 AM class and your professor will be the worst person in the world, you should still take the class this semester rather than waiting for the next one.

I have this situation with my Business Administration course this semester. Without it, I would have been stuck with a bunch of electives next semester because the class is considered a requirement before you can take most other business courses in my University.

Core Classes and Electives

By core classes, I mean stuff like History, Art, and other subjects that everyone has to take regardless of their major. This type of classes are usually useless and a waist of time. Therefore, you should choose the easiest professors for this classes (the ones who give out the most A’s) and spread them out through out the 4 years (if possible). Make them into easy classes (again, if possible).

For electives that are not specific to your major, the similar rule applies. They should be easy and interesting for you. If an elective takes too much work, you are doing something wrong and should choose an easier elective. Watch for easy electives every time you register for classes. If all easy electives are taken, wait for the next semester to take the easy ones. Likewise, if you absolutely hate doing something, don’t pick that as an elective.

For core classes (or electives) specific to your major, don’t necessarily take the easiest way out. You will need to have a couple of professors that will be able to provide you with a letter of recommendation, guidance, advice, etc… at some point during your College career. Therefore, choose the classes with the professors that will be most likely to do this for you. If a professor had worked in the industry that you are interested in (and was successful at it), his class should definitely be one of your priorities. Also, keep in mind that you might not be able to build a good relationship with every single professor. Therefore, plan on taking more than 2 classes that have those types of professors teaching them.

Read the Syllabus

For the elective classes, read the syllabus as soon as you get it. You need to know what you are getting yourself into from the beginning. If something on the syllabus sounds too hard for an elective (or you don’t feel comfortable doing something), drop that class right away and choose something else to do instead. No point in waisting too much of your time.

Take Morning Classes

I know. You are probably thinking that I’m crazy for recommending this idea and will probably stop reading this blog after reading this point.

However, taking morning classes (preferably 8AM Monday-Friday) is one of the best things that you can do. They will help discipline you and will free up your day. What I mean by this is that if you have all of your classes in the evening, you will probably not have enough discipline to wake up in the morning and will end up sleeping in. With morning classes, you have no choice but to wake up early, which means that you will have more of your day to work on assignments, ask for help, and you will be able to get more work done. They will also prevent you from partying during the work week and on Sundays because it’s harder to wake up for an 8AM class after partying through the night than it is for an evening class. This, again, will most likely have a positive impact on your grades as well as on your health. The only exception to this rule is if you are doing a part time internship or job that requires certain fixed hours. In this case, you should plan your hours around the job/internship.

The first week will be difficult and painful. You will feel tired and hate this idea.  However, after that point, your body will adjust and it will get better. Over all, the benefits of early classes (having more time to be productive) will outweigh the discomfort.

When Should You Register?

As soon as possible. The best classes will go away to people who register the earliest. Therefore, as soon as registration opens, you should already have everything planned out (which courses you plan on taking and with which professors) and go for it ASAP. Than you should use the first week of your new semester (Add/Drop period) to make any adjustments in terms of electives that you didn’t guess correctly as being easy and/or adding a class that you were unable to add earlier.

To summarize, this are the main points of choosing classes. The priority should be as follows:

  1. Take care of prerequisites (you will be screwed if you don’t)
  2. Core classes and electives related to your degree with good professors (if this opportunity comes up, you will be stupid not to take it.)
  3. Balance of easy/hard classes
  4. electives/core classes that you can take during any time through out the 4 years. (You can afford to wait to get what you want)
  5. Timing of your classes (you can suffer the discomfort if it means getting all of the other points right.)

Again, if you have an opportunity to pick your classes, you should choose them wisely.

XOXO,

 

Katy Bronsk

Taking Care of Pets While Being in College

Through out the whole last year, I have been taking care of my 2 incredible animals: my two cats while being in College. I had brought them together with me to the U.S. from Europe because I felt like they were my family and that I couldn’t abandon them. I really love my two cats and think that they look super cute. However, owning pets is a huge responsibility and will cause for you to have certain inconveniences while being in College.

Your pets will require your time, attention, and money. They are like young children. They can’t provide for themselves and so you will have to provide for them. You have to understand this concept before you decide to bring your pet with you for College. Pets cost money and they also cost time. If you know that you will not be able to afford to have a pet while in College (due to not having money or not having time to take care of the pet), you should not buy yourself a pet in College or bring your pet a long on your college journey.

With this point/disclaimer out of the way, here’s how I have been taking care of my pets and some things that you have to keep in mind/tips that I can give about being a responsible owner of a pet (or pets) while being in College.

Place to Live

Most College dorms will not allow for you to bring your pet with you. This means that if you plan on owning a pet while in College, you should forget about living in a College dorm and rent out an apartment, instead. If your College forces all Freshman students to live in a College dorm there first semester, your only options are 1.) to not go to that College or 2.) not bring your pet with you. I chose option #1. Therefore, if your seriously plan on owning a pet starting your freshman year, this will have to be one of your considerations when choosing a College. And do not even think about braking the rules on this one. If your RA finds out about your cute little puppy, he will not have a lot of options but to confiscate it. And you do not want that to happen to your animal.

Some apartments that were made for College students will allow for you to have a pet. However, most of them have a one pet restriction. So if you own two cats like me, you will have to look for other options. If your College is in a big city, finding a pet friendly place to rent out will not be a problem. Although, you will most likely have to rent out a normal property that was not created for College students and find a roommate on your own to split the bill with. Unless your parents are rich. In which case, you can live on your own without a roommate and have your pets as your roommates. Keep in mind that you will probably end up spending more on housing with a pet than without it. You will also need to pay pet deposit fees and pet rent (although a lot of places allow for you to get away with it if you don’t). Some pets will also require for you to have a certain climate in your apartment. In this case, you will end up paying more for electricity.  If your College is in the middle of nowhere, however, it might be hard for you to find pet friendly housing options. Therefore, this should be something that you have to consider before choosing a College as well. Once you get accepted, you should search for different pet friendly options and if you can’t find anything and are set on owning a pet while being in College, you will have to pick your other options.

Also, owning a pet might prevent you from being able to live in a sorority/fraternity house or significantly limit your options. Some sororities/fraternities do not allow pets while others might still have hazing. I personally do not understand why a person would choose to get hazed in a sorority and not simply walk away but you getting hazed is one thing. Having your pet hazed is another thing. You do not want your pet to get hurt because of some stupid initiation ritual that your brothers/sisters came up with. This would be incredibly irresponsible of you. So if you are really set on greek life, owning a pet might not be the best idea for you.

Money

The second thing that you have to understand is that your pet will be a recurring cost. Unlike make up or clothes, you can’t just decide not to buy food for your cat tomorrow. Your cat will starve if you do that. You will have to spend a certain amount of money on your pets every single week. How much you will have to spend will depend on the type of pet you own and where you live. For cats, your recurring costs will be pet food (both can and dry), sand for the litter box, and maybe medication (if your cat needs it). You will also have to buy at minimum a liter box, cat dishes, and have some extra money saved in case you will need to take your cat to the vet. You will also probably want to buy toys and accessories for your cat (but those are not necessities. You can have your cat play with shoelaces or other improvised toys). At minimum, one cat will cost you about $30 per month for food + litter. For the fixed costs, it will be about $200. However, if you are bringing your pet with you, you can bring the litter box, cat dishes, etc… and not have those fixed costs. You also will need to either buy pet health insurance (which will cost you $175 per year) and/or have $1,000 to $2,000 in savings separate from the rest of your money that you will not touch under any circumstances. (I chose option #2 due to my distrust of insurance policies and my believe that the best insurance is cash. Cash doesn’t have “I cover this procedure but I don’t cover that procedure” after all. Even if you do decide to go the pet insurance route, I will still recommend to have about $500 that you will not touch, in case your pet will need a procedure that the insurance will not cover). If you do not have $30 per month to spend on your pet (or do not have a sound plan of making an additional $30 per month), than you should not buy yourself a cat. The costs of owning a dog or other pets will be different and I can’t say anything about those expenses because I do not own those animals.

Whatever that cost will be, you will need to make sure to set that money aside accordingly and not spend it on other stuff. What I mean by this is, if you have a part time job that you use to pay for your cat, you can’t just decide to spend that $30 on clubbing instead of buying your cat food. Also, if your part time job is your only way of paying for your pet and than decide that you don’t want to do it anymore, you will have to come up with another idea for paying for your cat before you quit. Remember. Your cat is like a really small child. It can’t provide for itself and it’s your responsibility to provide for it.

Taking Care of the Pet

This one will depend on the type of pet that you own. For cats, you will need to feed it 2-3 times/day with canned cat food. This is not too hard to do, since you can feed it one time before heading of to class in the morning and one time in the evening when you come home. You should also give your cat dry cat food in the morning so that it will have a “snack” to eat through out the day. You will also have to clean out your cat’s litter box. How often you will have to do that will depend on your cat. I clean it out after my cats every day. The good thing is that doing all of those activities will take you a maximum of 1 hour/day. This will obviously be different for dogs and other animals.

If you have some free time, you can also play with your cats, brush their fur, etc… You also have to remember to regularly shop for their food. I often buy their food online and have it delivered to my apartment. I find it more convenient than physically going to the store and buying it. After you figure out your routine, it should not take you a lot of time to take care of your pet. After a while, taking care of your pet will become a routine and it will not cause you a lot of stress or issues. It will even make you feel more put together.

With this said, you have to remember about your pet. You can’t just go our partying and forget to feed your cat or take your dog out for a walk because you are hungover. You also can’t ignore your pet’s needs because you have an exam tomorrow and are pulling an all nighter. So you if you are really bad at time management, a pet might not be the best idea.

The Vet

This part is a bit controversial and depends on what you want to do with your pet. Some people take their pets for check ups to the vet once a year (or more often). Other people choose not to do this. I used to take my cats to the vet in the past but due to a situation that  happened with one of my cats (that I do not want to discuss because it’s too private), I do not do this anymore. If an emergency happens, I will take my cats to the vet. I’m not crazy. However, I do not want to cause unnecessary stress to my cats by having the vet come once a year or taking them to the vet. My cats don’t like strangers or being moved from place to place too often and having this interaction with the vet causes unnecessary stress for them, which I do not believe is worth it.

With this said, the vet question should be based on what you think is best for your animal and not on what you can or can’t afford. If you believe in taking your pet to the vet once a year, you should find the money and time to do this. I would recommend doing this during one of your breaks and definitely not before exams.

Roommates

If you choose to live with roommates, they have to be made aware of you owning the pet (or planning to own one). Your roommate might have allergies or be scared of your pet. Or you might have cats and your roommate might decide to get a dog. All of this situations are bad for both of you. You do not want to anger your roommate. For this reasons, you should discuss this matter with them. If you are unofficially choosing a roommate, choose someone who is OK with you owning your pet and who will not get a pet that will make your pet unhappy. For example, if you own a cat, don’t get yourself a roommate who owns a large dog (or is a dog person).

On the other hand, your roommate might get really excited about your pet and will want to pet it, play with it, etc… Wether you allow for your roommate to do this or not is up to you. My recommendation is, if your roommate decides to consistently play with your pet, he should share some of the responsibilities of taking care of it.

Also, you will have to decide if the pet will only stay in your room or will be allowed in your roommate’s room, what will happen if your pet damages your roommate’s shoes, etc… Your roommate might like animals and will be OK with “sharing” the pet or he might be OK with you having the pet but will not want anything to do with it. All of this questions have to be discussed with him/her. If you are choosing your own roommate to split the bill on your own somewhere in the city without an RA, than you should choose somebody who will ideally like your pet and help you out. In this case, you have more options.

Transferring/interning/Study Abroad

Once you own a pet, you are not alone anymore and it’s your responsibility not to abandon it. This means that if you decide to transfer to another University, intern in another town, or do study abroad, you will need to figure out what you will do with your pet. You might find someone to take care of the pet and pay them a monthly fee to do so until you come back, if you plan on interning. Currently, there are a lot of legitimate firms that provide this service. They will come to your house, feed your cat, clean up after it, and play with it. If you plan on transferring, you should bring your pet with you. If you plan on doing study abroad, you will also have to think things through in terms of what to do with your pet. If you will be doing study abroad for semester to a year, you should either bring your pet with you or not do it. Or realize that your pet will get incredibly lonely and upset about you being gone for so long.

So here are the major points of having a pet or taking care of a pet while being in College.  It will make your life a bit more difficult and expensive. But you will always have a furry friend with you and I can almost guarantee that your pet will make you feel less stressed out before exams (and about life in general).

 

So think things through before brining a pet with you,

 

XOXO

 

 

Katy Bronsk

 

 

 

 

The Lazy Student’s Guide to IB (International Baccalaureate) Program

The summer is going to be over soon and some soon to be 11th Graders will start the IB program in international schools around the world. I have finished doing this program about a year ago before attending college. For those of you unfamiliar with the program, it’s similar to the AP classes, only you have less flexibility over what you choose and you also have to do something called CAS, Theory of Knowledge, and the Extended Essay. I’m going to apologize right away and say that if you are not in this program or are planning on doing this program, this post will not be that useful for you. However, a lot of people had asked me about my experience with this program so I felt like writing this honest reflection about it. Here, I will be discussing the large concepts about the program rather than stuff like study tips.

A lot of people say that the IB program is incredibly difficult and that you will have no sleep for the 2 years (11th and 12th Grade) while you are doing it. And those people are liars. The IB program is actually incredibly easy and manageable. In my 2 years of IB, I pulled 0 all nighters, spent 1 semester watching Game of Thrones instead of studying, and ended up with all 6’s on my exams without even studying for them (I probably would have gotten 7’s if I did study). The trick of doing this is to manage your time properly and to not make your life more difficult than it should be. So in this post I will give you a step-by-step guide of the IB and how to do well in it, with the least amount of work.

Choosing the Right Subjects

So let’s start at the beginning: with picking your classes. Chances are, you will have some choices (options) when it comes to the classes that you will have to take. Each school is different in terms of the classes that they offer so this part might not be 100% applicable to your situation. In total, you will have 6 classes. The basic framework for classes is that you need to have 1 Math course, 1 foreign language course, 1 English language course, 1 science course, and 1 Social Studies course. For the 6th Course, you can choose between an Art, another Social Studies course, or another Natural Scirnce course. You also have to have 3 of those courses at Standard Level (SL) and 3 at Higher Level (HL).

When it comes to picking those courses, pick what you are good at. Despite what other people will want you to believe, the IB is NOT the time for you to take risks. So choose courses that you know you will do well in. If you are not that great at a certain subject, choose it at the standard level. It’s better to get a 7 in SL Math than a 3 at HL Math. If you are good at memorization, pick subjects such as Psychology, History, or Biology for Higher Level. If you are better at problem solving and applying your knowledge, pick subjects such as Math and Physics for HL. If you are good at making stuff up and bullshitting essays, take Economics or Language and Literature as your HL.  If you are bilingual and your second language is offered as a foreign language at your school, take that language as HL. On the other hand, if you are not bilingual, do not take a foreign language as your HL. Don’t make your life more complicated than it has to be. Also, don’t get creative and pick 7 courses instead of 6 (or 4 higher levels instead of 3). This will only make your life more difficult than it has to be. Keep it simple. Pick only the required courses and the ones that play to your strength.

I personally picked HL English Language and Literature, HL Economics (because I’m good at the art of bullshit) and HL Psychology (because I also have a good memory). For SL’s, I picked Chemistry, German (because I’m not a native speaker) and Math. This combination turned out to be pretty easy for me because it played to my strength. So do the same with your subjects. Remember. It’s better to get a 7 in Sport Science than a 2 in HL Math.

The Recommended Workload

Your workload through out this two years will not (and should not) be equal. At the beginning of 11th Grade (1st Semester), you will not have that much work to do, a lot of concepts in your classes will be relatively easy, and you will still have a lot of time a head of you for major assessments (in my school, we didn’t even start with the major assessments at that point.) My Psychology teacher called this “the honey moon” period.  Therefore, I would recommend for you to use the first semester to work on getting your CAS out of the way as much as possible. The second semester of 11th Grade will be harder than the first one. You will be introduced to more harder topics and you should start working on your long term assignments. During the summer between 11th and 12th Grade, you should get your major assignments (Extended Essays, IAs, etc…) done. The beginning of 12th Grade (until about November) will be incredibly difficult because you will be busy with college admissions as well as your normal academic work. After that, (if you follow through on everything in this guide) your life will become incredibly easy and a bit boring. You will be walking around and complaining about having nothing to do. So make a list of TV Shows that you want to watch for this time.

CAS

CAS is the Creativity, Action, and Service requirement that you will have to do. Different schools deal differently with this requirement and the rules have changed from the time that I’ve done the IB. However, the advice that I can give is: find your school’s rules and do the bare minimum. Ask yourself, “Do I really need to run for High School president to fulfill this requirement or will a less demanding activity/role allow for me to complete the requirement?”. If the answer is the later, don’t run for High School president and do the less demanding role. Even if you do the bare minimum, you will still have plenty of stuff to write about on your college application so don’t make your life harder.

Choose the activities that you can tolerate in each category. Don’t make your life more miserable than it has to be. And, obviously, if an activity gives a higher number of “hours” for the time spent, do that activity (if your school still counts hours). For example, in our school, one MUN conference gave 50 Creativity hours for one week and the school didn’t even check if you prepared for it or not. All you had to do was show up wearing a suit for the day and sit in your place, pretending to know what’s going on. On the other hand, Art Club only gave 4 Creativity hours per week. I think we can all agree that the first choice was a better way to full fill the requirements (back in my day, you had to get to 150 hours to be done).

For your CAS reflections, simply write them out and don’t get creative. Don’t make videos or something else. Simply write a paragraph reflection for everything. Also, feel free to bullshit (lie about) the learning outcomes. It’s not like the IB can read your thoughts. For example, for the ethical dilemma learning outcome, I wrote about how I felt tempted to overlook the mistakes that my High School team had made when I was refereeing for Volleyball. This was a complete lie and bullshit. I didn’t care about my High School team’s success and spent more time fighting boredom rather than trying to influence the game. Basically, if you can bullshit your way into making an activity match with the learning outcome, do that instead of doing an activity that would actually match the learning outcome. Also, don’t try to get a CAS award or extra points for doing CAS. It’s much easier to do well on your subjects than to get this extra points and your CAS award will not matter in the long run.

Time Required: will very wildly depending on your school.

Extended Essay

The first part of making your life easier when it comes to the extended essay is choosing the right subject. I would recommend choosing psychology or literature or language and literature and avoiding subjects such as economics or natural sciences. For natural sciences, you will have to do experiments and for economics, you will have to collect primary data. This is extra work and it will also make it harder for you to write your extended essay over the summer (if you decide to write it during the summer).

The second part is choosing the right research question. The question should be easy to research, straight foreword, related to the subject, and be complex enough to allow for you to have a discussion. This question doesn’t have to be something that you are interested in. As long as you can research it, provide arguments and counter arguments, and have an intelligent discussion in your Essay, you are good to go. Make your life easier and pick something that is easy to research.

The third part is actually writing it. This is the hard part and you can either do it my way (lock yourself in your room for two weeks during the summer and get it done) or the proper way (write it slowly over the year that you have). Both ways are fine and you should do whatever works for you. I have written mine in Psychology but different extended essays have different rules that you need to follow so I can’t say exactly what you will need to do. What I can say is that you should read the rubric and focus on making your extended essay meet all of the requirements. You should also focus on making your essay sound academic. You can procrastinate on it and get it all done over the summer. If you pick the right subject, it will be doable. However, a better approach would be to not procrastinate and get about 1/2 of it done before the summer and 1/2 over the summer. Than, after you will be done with it, find a friend who is good at the subject to have him/her edit it for you and give you constructive feedback.

Time Required: I wrote my first draft  in two weeks (about 12 hours each day) over the Summer and then spent one week (about 4 hours each day) editing it.

TOK (Theory Of Knowledge)

The TOK  should be renamed “the art of bullshit”. For this subject, you will need to write an essay and do a presentation. For the presentation, it will be best for you to stick with the Power Point presentation and to not make it too fancy. You are not being graded on how pretty your slides look so why bother making them look pretty? However, you are being timed and graded on your ideas as well as on how you can convey them. Therefore, you should practice the presentation. Also, make sure to adhere to all of the required parts of the presentation and the written assignment. You can gain or lose a lot of points if you do or don’t follow the rules.

For both of this assignments (the presentation and the essay), the trick is to make yourself sound profound. Raise questions and than answer them without a real conclusion by using different perspectives. Choose something controversial for the questions to come more naturally to you. Pretend to be a philosopher, who is debating the meaning of life with himself or herself to get yourself in the mood. Basically, bullshit the presentation and the essay and you will be fine.

Time Required: 1-2 weeks (about an hour/day) for the essay. About 2 weeks (about 2 hours/day) for the presentation.

IAs

For your subjects, you will also need to do IAs (internal assessments). Different subjects will have different IAs so I can’t say exactly what you should write for them. However, I will go through the subjects that I had and the tricks to writing/doing easier IAs for those subjects:

Language and Literature: In this subject, the IAs are written tasks (one creative and one analytical), an Individual Oral Commentary of one text, and a Further Oral Activity.

For the creative written task, do not actually get creative. I know. This sounds Ironic. However, you will not get extra points for being super creative, while you might get points deducted for not following some things in the rubric. Make sure that the written task is relevant to the course work and pick the text type that’s easy to work with. Writing an 800 words news article is much easier than writing 800 words of poetry. It’s also much easier to write a good creative written task about the literature part rather than about the language part (so you should prioritize doing well on the literature written task.) Just like everything else in IB, the major component of how well you do will depend on your ability to bullshit. What I mean by this is that one of the most important parts of your creative written task is the rational, in which you should explain how your creative piece relates to the course. Even if your written task is not that great, itself, if you write the rational well, you will get a 5 or 6. Therefor, you should spend about the same time on this part as you spend writing the actual creative piece.

Time Required: 2-3 school days

The analytical written task is simply you writing an essay about some text. This part is easier to be done on the language part. Simply pick an article online that relates to the language part of the course and write an 800-1000 words essay on it. That’s it. (I really can’t add anything else to this part because it’s that simple).

Time Required: I wrote mine in 1 school night. And than spent about 1 day editing it.

For the Further Oral Activity, pick an article or an advertisement and analyze it. Make a Power Point presentation. Again, the Power Point presentation doesn’t need to look fancy. Therefore, don’t waist your time making it look fancy. Instead, focus on your analysis. Again, if you are good at the Art of Bullshit, you will be fine.

Time Required: I spent 2 hours making my best FOA at the last minute.

The Individual Oral Commentary will be like an exam. Your teacher will pick a passage from one of the texts and it will be your job to analyze it. You will most likely know the passages in advance, which means that you will have some time to prepare for this exam and practice analyzing them at home. Record yourself doing the analysis and than listen to it. Or practice with a  friend who is good at the subject. Also, as part of your preparation, you should write what happened before and after each passage and memorize it. This part should be in your introduction and you will gain some easy marks by simply stating the “context”.

Time Required: I studied for about a week for it.

Psychology: This IA is all about following the rubric. As long as you follow the rubric and write everything that is required of you in an academic tone, you will get an IB 6-7. For this IA, your writing style should be as concise and academic as possible. Do not write anything poetic or get too creative with your experiment. Remember, the less creative you will be, the better.

Time Required: 1-2 weeks

Math: The Math IA will be extremely long and will actually require for you to put in the effort. However, just like everything else in IB, the effort is not the actual Math part. Yes. Your math should be correct. You should not have any incorrect calculations. You should also make your math relevant to the course. However, it is only about 20% on the rubric. Your “presentation” or things like grammar, your ability to properly format equations, the use of graphs and charts, and your writing counts for the rest. Therefore, spend most of your time on making your IA look and sound pretty.

Time Required: I wrote mine over the summer

Chemistry: For the Chemistry IA, you will need to do an experiment and your IA will basically be a write up of that experiment. Doing the actual experiment will be the most time consuming part of your IA. If you screw this part up, feel free to make up the data  for your experiment. Is this ethical? No. Will you get caught? Probably not. Is it easier than redoing the experiment from start if it failed? Of course. Just make sure to make your data look realistic. With this said, you do need to actually do the experiment (or pretend to do it). What I mean by this is that you have to show up to the lab, even if you will be making up numbers. You don’t want your Chemistry teacher to know that you plan on making up data.

Just like the Psychology IA, the Chemistry IA is also all about following the rubric. As long as you do everything on the rubric, you will get an IB 6-7.  So go over the rubric as if it was a checklist.

Time Required: Due to the experiment part, it was about a month. But I did love smelling one of the chemicals so I probably would have gotten done faster if it wasn’t for my love of ethyl ethanoate.

German: For your foreign language, the IA’s will be written tasks and they will be incredibly short. Your main focus should be on getting the grammar and the format right. The content should obviously relate to the course. Make sure to pick an easy format/text type. You will also need to do an individual oral and an integrated oral. The best thing that you can do for your foreign language class is to study the language and worry less about the actual assignments. You can’t really prepare for the speaking IAs in a day or even in a week. If you know the language well, you will do well. If you don’t know the language well, you will not do well, no matter what you do.

Time Required: Learn the language as best as you can in a year of IB or in a year before IB. The assignments, themselves, will be incredibly easy this way.

Economics: The hardest part of this IA will be finding the article to write the commentary on. You should find an article, with which you can use two different concepts in order to explain it. The IA, itself, will not take you a lot of time to write and it is mostly about you making logical things up, in accordance with the subject. As long as it’s logical and makes sense, you will get points. With this IA, you will actually have to get a bit creative, since it’s hard to find a news article to which more than one concept will relate at the same time but which will be narrow and specific at the same time. This is the reason why I said that the ‘Art of Bullshit” is important in this subject. You will have to write 3-4 of those articles, focused on different sections of the course.

Time Required: About a week to find the article. About 8 hours to write the actual commentary on it and edit it.

Predicted Vs. Actual Scores

Your predicted scores are more important than your actual scores, if you plan on studying in the US. Your predicted score is what your grade is based on. Which means high predicted score = high GPA. Therefore, your priority should be on getting a high predicted score rather than an actual. If you plan on staying in Europe or going to UK, if you get a really high predicted score, you can get an “unconditional offer”. An “unconditional offer” means that it doesn’t matter how you do on the final exams. Your University can not resign your offer over you IB score results. Therefore, my recommendation would be to suck up to your teachers and show a lot of potential to get those high predicted scores. And than relax your final semester of IB and not bother actually doing well on the exams. I had gotten an unconditional from my University, which is why I didn’t even study for the finals.

So here you have the basic recommendations that I can give about the IB program and how to do less work in it. Keep in mind that a lot of those things will be specific to your school and some of them will be out of date. I might make a follow up post to discuss the actual exams. However, over all, if you focus on the right things and not make your life harder than it has to be, the IB program will not be as hard as people make it out to be.

 

Remember. IB is IBS,

 

XOXO

 

Katy Bronsk