‘You wouldn’t understand.’ Coping with the worst: Is being stress-free actually a thing for IB/AP students?

All the homework AP/IB students often have to do.

By Dania Herrera ’19

Students taking rigorous and accelerated courses, such as Advanced Placement (AP) and the International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma program, face many challenges with their academic work. These courses require a huge amount of input in their school work where the levels of stress dramatically increase.

People at school assume that students who are apart of these programs are doing well in school when in reality they are the ones that are struggling the most. There’s a lot of misunderstanding of the needs of these students because they need extra support. It is pretty surprising that schools do not really address or come up with ways on how to cope, and instead say, ‘it’s part of life, deal with it’.

In reality, IB, specifically, is an assessed programme where students have the opportunity to obtain an IB Diploma within a 2-year period. The classes offered are totally different compared to regular classes. It is also important to note that the extended essay is an essay composed of a total of 4,000 words of research. To go a little more in depth, the extended essay is a month long process where students need to put their best effort and not procrastinate. Working on the extended essay is not fun because it is important for students to incorporate many specific elements in order to be successful. This is something that students dread to do, but at the same time, the extended essay is a great way for students to be prepared for college when writing 10+ research papers.

A lot of people who are within the IB and AP classes constantly question whether being apart of these programs is worth the stress and hard work.  However, research being led by USF College of Education Associate Professor Elizabeth Shaunessy-Dedrick Ph.D. and Professor Shannon Suldo Ph.D., is examining the causes of that stress, how it impacts students, and what can be done to help an underserved part of the student population. According to both doctors, their research includes a “study [that] is a four-year grant, funded by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), the statistics, research, and evaluation arm of the U.S. Department of Education. The grant is highly competitive… [and] this is the second phase of research in this area for Shaunessy-Dedrick and Suldo being funded by IES, and the $1.5 million grant runs through 2019.” The new grant is funding research to develop “interventions to support youth, and developing methods of communicating effective strategies to students that’s feasible and useful.”

Strategies like those will help high school students complete high school as well as help them become successful academically and emotionally and even throughout their lives.