It’s an IB thing!

Posted on 1st Feb 2019 in University Study, Canada

Georges-Philippe Gadoury-Sansfaçon, a student at Bishop's University in Canada, explains how the studying the IB shaped him as a person...

Before writing this, I dove into my old papers written when I was an IB student. I particularly liked reading my last essay in which I had to reflect on my experiences with community engagement. I couldn’t help but laugh at my younger self when I saw how much I shoe-horned words like Open-minded, reflective, risk taker, principled and thinker almost everywhere I could. These five assets are part of the IB learner profile, to which you’re introduced as soon as you get in. After a few months, I remember how everybody would start joking about the 10 attributes that make this profile, telling others ‘’Wow, that’s so caring of you, beware or you’ll end up having to add that to your essay” or ”Great communication skills, IB’s getting to your head.”

More than two years later, I can tell you that’s kind of what happens when you get into IB: becoming part of a huge family like IB allows you to grow up for a few years in an environment where you’re encouraged to be the best version of yourself while helping others and creating life-long relationships. Looking back at my younger self, I’m impressed at how much all the attributes I mentioned were becoming my own without noticing it. At all levels, as students, we often write what we know the teacher wants and utilize all the important key words, but I believe IB adds a reflection to that; at least an unconscious one in the beginning. Associating words like principled to some of my actions went smoothly in essays, but I realize today it wasn’t just by design.

IB also nurtured the side of me that seeks to do more, to want more, to change things around me. It helped me realize that there is more to school than grades, that getting involved matters. I had many chances to become a leader; I was encouraged to do so! All the community service and some projects had me working towards something bigger than myself, and that played a substantial role in the person I am today. I developed the intellectual curiosity, the knowledge, the critical thinking, the creativity, the organizational and communication skills and the sensitivity that allow me to see the bigger picture and face problems with an interdisciplinary approach, which is incredibly helpful in today’s world of constant innovation.

All this came in handy in university: as an IB student, you get prepared to face anything that could stand in your way. The progressive workload gets you ready, by your last year (of high school!), to smoothly take on and balance busy schedules and responsibilities while taking time for your personal life. You not only learn to manage yourself and your time, but also master the art of optimizing every moment you have. There are many ways to make your transition to university smoother and easier, but an IB background is by far, in my opinion, the best option that will not only make it easier, but that will also let you enjoy university life at its best while rocking your classes.

I come from a small community, even for IB: I did my high school in Jean-Jacques-Bertrand, in Farnham, Quebec. The astonishing teachers, the super interesting projects and staying mostly with the same 50 people throughout my high school are all IB-related pros that helped me feel at home. IB is at the same time the place for people that know what they want and the place for those who have absolutely no idea. Every IB student develops bonds that are based on the same thing, though, which is a passion for learning more and for doing your best while having fun. I find feeling home helped a lot during tougher times and pushed me to keep my head up: as an IB student, you’re never alone.

I found an IB-like feeling at Bishop’s University, where I’ve just completed my first semester. I already mentioned the transition went smoothly because of all the skills I had acquired while being an IB student (you never stop being one in your heart), but I think it’s important to point out that’s because IB and university aren’t that different, especially at Bishop’s. Common perception is that you get to explore specific topics that interest you once you’re in university, not only general stuff like before. While that may be true for many high schools, it’s totally not the case if you’re an IB student: the numerous projects and the close relationships you develop with your teachers allow you to explore some unfamiliar concepts while giving you the chance to expand your knowledge on what you already know and put that to use. I found that IB and Bishop’s both put emphasis on the student’s perspective and on broadening this perspective through the years, and that’s part of what makes them worthwhile and amazing experiences.

My younger self would write that IB helped me become a well-rounded and optimized student that cares, and today I’d tell him that he can’t even begin to imagine how much that’s true.

Learn more about IB policies at Bishop’s University at:

Georges-Philippe Gadoury-Sansfaçon

Hometown: Bedford, Quebec Canada

High School: Ēcole Jean-Jacques-Bertrand

Bachelor of Science, double major Mathematics and Psychology, Bishop’s University

Graduating Class of 2021