Student voices: Insights from GIIS' IB Diploma graduates

Student voices: Insights from GIIS' IB Diploma graduates

The years 2020 and 2021 have been difficult and unusual for many students and teachers around the world due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In some unfortunate cases, students have had to drop out or change schools due to pandemic-induced financial stress or health crises, while most students were forced to adapt to virtual schooling and to missing out on their regular physical and social routines at school. 

Still, many schools, including GIIS (Global Indian International School), effectively supported students with the temporary switch to online learning, prevented disruptions to children’s education and provided pastoral care and guidance in the face of challenging times. 

GIIS’s graduating batches of Grade 10 (Cambridge IGCSE) and Grade 12 students (IB Diploma and CBSE students) were impacted by the uncertainty, changes in routines, switch to virtual lessons for a few months, and cancellation of board exams in 2020. However, all graduating cohorts of GIIS in the last two years showed remarkable resilience, worked hard and adapted well to the changes brought about by the pandemic.  

We spoke to some of our students about their experience undertaking the reputed and rigorous International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (Grades 11 and 12, aged 16 to 19). Read on to find out about their learnings in their IBDP journey, the challenges they faced, how they were supported and how they overcame their challenges.

The IBDP is one of the most preferred pre-university courses available for high school students, although it is known to be demanding. What are some of your learnings from doing the IBDP at GIIS?  

“My main learning was managing my time and keeping my head level even when under pressure. I learnt to persevere and prioritize my time to ensure the important things get enough attention and I still had time to focus on other things, or just to relax. The IB helped me learn and push my personal limits of mental stamina - be it writing 40 pages of a research paper overnight or revising and understanding key concepts.” - Vaideha Sathe, IBDP World Topper of 2021 cohort, now studying Molecular Bioengineering at Imperial College, London

“I learnt to never underestimate my potential. More often than not, less is more. It is better to be genuine and you, rather than unhappy and someone else. Everyone is going through something in their life, so always be kind. As for my learnings from the academic programme, there is no limit to all that I’ve taken away. But some of the ones that resonated the most are surrounding the present status of our environment. I’ve learned just how crucial it is for young generations to understand our environment, our impact on it and to discover ways to contribute to our planet.” - Swati Maddi, IBDP 2021 graduate and aspiring professional dancer, currently studying Psychology & Dance at Boston Conservatory, Berklee 

“For me, each component of the IBDP curriculum instilled different values. For example, my Extended Essay taught me balance; whether it was allocating hours each week to EE research along with academics, or striking the balance between secondary source analysis and primary interpretations. I realised that because I started planning and drafting the essay very early, I was able to maintain my emotional balance and remain calm during the last few months of the course. Similarly, I improved my research, time management and communication throughout the two year IB Diploma Programme.” - Khushi Bhardwaj, IBDP World Topper, recipient of GIIS’ Global Citizenship Scholarship, presently at Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta

Describe some of the challenges you faced and how you overcame them.

“The workload of the course, especially in the second year, gets really tough to handle. With Internal assessments, projects, research assignments, semester exams and pre-boards, along with worldwide university applications and extracurricular activities, it can get pretty overwhelming. The key to handle the stress is bipartite. 
Firstly, it is important to compartmentalise the task and prioritise them based on several parameters. It is important to be consistent with these tasks so that they don't pile up towards the end. Secondly, it is important to take a break when you need it. Relaxing and spending quality time with friends and family is crucial and it helps in relieving pressure from all the deadlines and workload.” - Tanmay Raghu, recipient of the GIIS Global Citizenship Scholarship and IBDP World Topper, pursuing liberal arts at Yale-NUS College, Singapore

“When we had a complete lockdown in Singapore and schools had to be physically shut, it was a huge challenge as it pushed back all opportunities to conduct experiments. I had to adapt and reorganize my personal deadlines - work faster and for longer each day as soon as I had the chance to go back to school and gather the data as quickly as possible. This afforded me more time to focus on writing my research essays without the stress of having unfinished experiments.” - Vaideha Sathe (as above)

“The IBDP has 6 subjects that we choose besides three core components. Each component of the IB (Theory of Knowledge, Extended Essay and CAS - Creativity, Activity and Service) is not difficult or challenging on its own. But together, it can be a bit overwhelming. For instance, having to worry about a TOK essay deadline along with college applications and semester exams at the same time can be stressful. But I think those extreme moments when you’re about to breakdown but preserve and push ahead anyway are what makes you a stronger person in the end.”  - Khushi Bhardwaj (as above)

How did the educators at GIIS support you? 

“The teachers were very invested in our work - they gave us advice, recommended that we rework on areas that needed improvement and guided us when they felt we needed to put in more effort in our research. Our coordinator, Ms. Deepa Chandrasekaran, always made sure to check on our progress and support us whenever we felt overworked or under pressure.” - Vaideha Sathe (as above)

“All the educators at GIIS played a major role in making my journey memorable. When I moved to GIIS from India in the 9th Grade, it was a huge transition for me but my class teacher Ms.Sudeshna, the other subject teachers and students made me feel at home almost immediately.  I don’t think I can thank these teachers enough! Our IBDP coordinator, Ms. Deepa C. had constant words of encouragement for us. She has truly been my mentor and guide through these tough two challenging years of the IBDP.” - Kamya Malik, IBDP graduate 2021 cohort and IB World Topper, pursuing a triple major in the Arts at Christ University, India

“Our IBDP coordinator was no less than a superwoman. She juggled between numerous administrative tasks and student welfare while also paying attention to the needs of the students she taught as an economics teacher and giving us creative space to flourish. All my other teachers were also very helpful and knowledgeable, I was sometimes in awe of just how much they had to share above and beyond the theoretical knowledge we gained from books. It's true that life is the best teacher, and their lives' experiences which they shared with us really added to the richness of our classes.” - Tanmay Raghu (as above)

The IB Diploma Programme at GIIS is a well-rounded programme and allows students to flourish intellectually, socially and emotionally. IB graduates are prepared and confident to face the different challenges that they will encounter at university, the workplace and beyond.  We wish our students who have graduated from GIIS the very best in their future endeavours. 

If you’d like to know more about GIIS, our IB Diploma Programme or the other international curricula that we offer to students from K1 to Grade 12, please reach out to us or schedule a virtual campus tour.


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Ian Ryder

Ian has lived in three different countries with his family of five. He currently teaches ICT in an international school near Barcelona.


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