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Common Sense College Application Tips, Part III: International Baccalaureate Edition

A girl writes diligently at her desk

College applications can seem like a daunting, unending task.

Functionally, each application is a persuasive project consisting of your essays, stats, letters of recommendation, etc.

(Visit Part I or Part II of this article series if you missed it!)

Projects can be broken down into doable tasks and sections. This mindset may be helpful in deconstructing them from a scary, far-away thing into a tangible to-do list. Also, I highly recommend finding someone to check in with you throughout your application process to keep you accountable.

The first semester of senior year is an extremely busy time. Typically, for each thing consuming your time, there is someone to motivate you and check in on your performance.

However, that is not the case for college applications. So, if your intrinsic motivation falters, it can be difficult to get back on track after procrastinating. 

Internal Assessments

One recommendation I have for students in the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program (IBDP) during 11th and 12th grade: if your school’s internal deadlines for most of your Internal Assessments (IAs) are in the first 5 months of senior year, or your EE (Extended Essay) is unfinished after October, finish your Personal Statement and have at least half of your college list finalized before school begins.

For example, you predict you’ll apply to 10, so have 5 you’re SURE you’re applying to. The workload is not going to leave much time for college applications to be done in a reasonably leisurely fashion.

I suggest prioritizing college applications in the summer because you will be doing IAs during the first semester regardless. College applications will be easier to disregard for the aforementioned reasons.

Be Time Conscious

At JCIB (Jefferson County International Baccalaureate) in particular, the senior year deadlines leave very little room for error.

If something is causing you to struggle to meet these deadlines, communicate with your teacher(s) before it becomes unfixable. However, treating the DP like a war of attrition by getting as much work as you reasonably can out of the way early is the best preventative measure for deadline-related disaster, as well as chipping away on a daily basis at things like CAS reflections.

Any extra minutes at the end of class adds up over the course of the year. You could reasonably fit 600 words of an IA into spending 5 minutes at the end of 1 class every day for 8 weeks: 5x5x8: 200 minutes of writing time. That’s nearly one-third of a full-length History IA.

It’s also less painful to start when you only intend to write for 5 minutes, because 5 minutes is a very small commitment. It is far less intimidating than the one hour that you may set aside on a certain day to write when you have writer’s block. 

Amrita Arora

Junior at Jefferson County Int'l Baccalaureate.

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