By: Martina I.
It is finally the second semester of this school year and the first few weeks have practically flown away. This means that for 10th grade, the deadline for a very important decision, one that will determine their next two years of study as well as their college choices and suitability, is fast-approaching: selecting IB courses. There is no perfect formula of courses that works for everyone. Every student must very carefully consider their strengths and weaknesses, as well as their plans for the future, in making the decision. Hopefully, the courses you are strongest at feed into your plans for future study. Even if this is not the case, you must still strive to strengthen the skills most closely connected to the potential future study you envision.
By now, many of you will have judged this article as useless considering you perhaps have no idea of what you would like to study or what you would like to become, but my advice for you is as follows: hurry up! Stop postponing this decision with the belief that it is still early and that you have plenty of time. Although making this decision later than most will not damage your career as a whole, it will certainly damage your chances of getting into the ideal college for your profession and of living your last two years of high school in peace. Many of you do have an idea of what you would like to become, but perhaps fear the judgement of others or doubt your own ability to achieve it. Therefore, you pretend like you have no idea and decide that it is simply too early to explicitly express your plans. A cycle forms: you lack the confidence to work for your dream plan, and, in a worst case scenario, might therefore not work for it, resulting in you losing more and more confidence while those around you gain it, preventing you from working which in turn again prevents you from being confident.
All over the world, there are millions of students with the same plan for the future as you, students who have know exactly what they wanted to do and have worked towards achieving it much sooner than you realized it was even an option for you. How do you expect to ever catch up to them if you never start? Perhaps, many of you lack the needed motivation because you do not feel that you have a true passion that is worth fighting for. This is entirely understandable. This issue, however, can be easily solved with a bit of logic. What you need to realize is that no one is born with a passion or talent. Passion is another word for something that you like, and you can obviously not be born liking something you have never experienced. Talent is another word for something that you’re good at, and most skills are not genetic. Therefore, it is impossible, in most cases, to be born being good at something that you have never practiced. If you think about it in the right way, this is wonderful news- it means that everyone who has ever told you “you can’t decide what you’re good at” or “some people are just born with a talent”, is blatantly wrong. You can decide exactly what you want to be good at, as long as you are willing to work for it. Likewise, believing that a person is better than you at something because they have a “talent”, unless that “talent” can be traced back to something genetic, is just a mere excuse used to avoid admitting your objective inferiority in something due to lack of practice.
My advice to you is, assuming everyone “likes something” (which doesn’t have to be “a true passion”, regardless of how good you believe you are at it), strive for it. You’ll be surprised at how dedicating yourself to something you truly like is more of a pleasure than work. Have you ever asked a straight A student in a subject you find challenging how they could possibly be so good at it and not seem stressed? I have. The answer is genuine passion for that particular subject, which drives study, makes time fly, and fills you with satisfaction when you attain something meaningful.
In summary, you should pick the IB courses that match your passions, and most likely, unless you have a self-esteem problem that prevents you from being good at what you like, therefore also match your strengths. You should favour the subjects you like over the courses you are good at for HL (Higher Level) selection. This is because studying something you do not like excessively can truly make you miserable and is entirely senseless and a waste of time. Remember what the true purpose of school is not college or work, but education in living a pleasant life. Living a happy life is also the purpose of college and work. If you are not happy, you are wasting your time and everybody else’s, as you will never contribute something meaningful to the world. Passion is the strongest possible fuel for making you excel at something you love, and, in my experience, it is also a good catalyst to make you excel at subjects you don’t like for the sake of protecting your overall GPA and therefore chances of pursuing your true passion. Next year, I hope to see every single one of my classmates concentrating their energies on courses they love, and to see them do so stress-free as a result.