How to DP

Hello, fellow rising juniors, juniors, and seniors. I am a senior from the class of 2022, and I have gone through the journey of what the DP (Diploma Program) is. I’m sure that the school has thoroughly explained what the DP consists of, so if you have decided to bestow upon yourself the challenge of DP: Welcome! You are, respectfully, at the brink of losing your sanity. But you are not to worry! I lost my sanity so you don’t have to. 

All jokes aside, DP is a great opportunity to challenge yourself as a learner and as a knower. Personally, I feel that it has prepared me for college because the dynamic is similar to what college will be in terms of academic rigor. I have also learned through my peers that DP is not for everyone, and that is absolutely okay. Even if you are not in the Diploma Program, you are still taking the same classes as those who are, and you will still receive a  diploma and/or IB certificate, which is an impressive accomplishment. So if down the road DP does not work for you, don’t feel discouraged or inferior to your peers because you are still putting in time and work. I have a classmate who in the first semester of the second year withdrew from the program because it was negatively affecting their mental health. Now, if you do decide to push through the program, I have come up with a list of tips that will help you keep yourself organized and also stay a step ahead of your work to maintain your sanity and reduce stress as much as possible. I know the challenges that come with the program and protecting your mental health is very important. 

Disclaimer: You still might get stressed. It happens! Yet, as long as you’re not overwhelmingly stressed, I did my job right. 

 

Tip 1: WRITE IT DOWN!

Keeping yourself organized is a fundamental key to surviving DP. One easy way to organize yourself is to write it down. Not only does it help with your memory, but if you do forget anything you’ll be able to look over your notes and remember. I suggest getting a calendar, even if it’s not the one the school provides. I purchased my own calendar that was organized in the way I like. In there I would write: 

  • Important dates. This includes:
    • Assessment dates
    • Homework deadlines
    • Athletic practices or games
    • Medical Appointments
    • Club meetings
    • College counseling meetings
    • Community service activities 
    • Plans with friends and family
    • SAT days

Literally, everything should be on your calendar. This way you can organize your time to work throughout the week. You also will no longer be the person that says “Oh, that’s tomorrow?”

  • To-Do Lists. Yes, they should also be somewhere in your calendar.
    • List out what homework you have to get done 
    • I found that having a to-do list makes me more motivated because checking them off is very satisfying and fulfilling 
    • It helps make you look at your tasks as individual steps instead of an overwhelming whole (This will definitely relieve some stress.)  

If a handwritten calendar doesn’t work for you, find something that does. You can: 

  • Add personal events on Managebac
  • Write your plans on your window with an Expo marker (I have a classmate who did this!)
  • Use Google Calendar
  • Use your phone’s calendar, Reminders, or Notes

You can use any tool that you know will work successfully in reminding you of your plans and what you need to complete for school. 

 

Tip 2: Work Strategically

After getting your life organized and written somewhere, you can start to work strategically. What does this mean exactly?

  • Look at your to-do list and determine what homework is a priority. Priority could mean being due the next day, studying for an upcoming test, or working on a lengthy project/essay. 
  • If it’s a lengthy assignment, divide the work throughout the week so you have time to work on other smaller homework while still progressing in the lengthy one. 
  • If there is homework that you know for a fact you can do quickly, do it and get it out of the way regardless of its due date. 
    • This will help get you a step ahead of the stressful workload you may have
  • Analyze how long each homework will take before starting and select the order of what homework you will do that afternoon.
  • If you know you have a lot of work for the afternoon, get some easy homework done during lunch! 

If you work strategically you will be able to complete all your work on time and procrastinate less which will inevitably reduce your stress. If you don’t do this you may fall into this terrible loop. 

 

 

Tip 3: Practice Balance

Joining a million clubs and sports, although enriching and fun, may not always be a great idea. Joining a club or sport means committing to giving up some of your time from your day. Therefore, you should make sure that these clubs fit with your schedule and work ethic so that you can do what you want and have fun but also comply with your schoolwork. I am one of those students who are a part of a million things, but I do so because I know what I can handle. If at any point I feel overwhelmed, I know that I need to take a step back and that is okay. You must put yourself and your mental health first. 

 

Tip 4: Take Necessary Breaks

As important as it is to be on top of your work, it is also essential to take breaks. Overworking yourself will make you exhausted, which does not help when you’re trying to be present in the classroom. If you spend hours working on a long project and you have another homework to do, take a brain break before starting the next task. If you’ve been studying for hours and it is getting late, GO TO BED. You can always finish studying in the morning, or during lunch/recess and have the information fresh in your mind. You’ll also be well-rested for the school day. 

If you’re getting frustrated with homework because you’re not understanding (and you’re at the brink of crying and tearing the paper apart) , step away. Drink water, take time to clear your mind and then return to the homework calmly. If you still don’t understand, talk to your teacher the next day. 

During your breaks, have a snack to recover some of that energy. Don’t you dare skip meals because you have too much work! Not eating means you will have less energy, which makes you less focused and less motivated to work. Taking breaks will give you a space for relief and recovery. If you don’t take breaks, you will get tired and fall into another terrible loop. 

 

 

Tip 5: Find Your Study Spot

Sometimes your bedroom is not the best working space. You have your nice, comfy bed calling out to you to lay down and get on your phone and do no work. You have family and pets who may interrupt you. You may also have your video games luring you for a quick game, which will turn into hours of playing. So sometimes getting away from your house in order to study is the better option. I personally have a harder time studying in my house, so some of my friends and I prefer going to a nearby Starbucks where all we can do is eat, drink, and study. Studying in groups can also be very helpful, but only if you work to keep each other focused. Having a good studying environment makes you finish your work more efficiently, which means you will have less stress. 

 

Tip 6: TALK TO YOUR TEACHERS!

They understand more than anyone that the DP is at times overwhelming. The teachers are more than willing to lend out a helping hand AND they are very generous regardless. But they can’t read your mind. If you truly feel like you can’t take on a certain task, talk to your teacher and discuss a possible solution.

If you aren’t doing so well in a class, don’t tell yourself “I’m doing so bad at my class; I’m just not going to try.” NO! Those classes count towards the Diploma Program. If you’re not doing well in a class, discuss with your teacher what you could do better in order to improve your grade. They have a really good insight in regards to your behavior in the classroom which could help your overall performance. You can go over past assessments with them and have them explain your mistakes in depth so you know not to do it again or how to do it better. Don’t be afraid to receive this criticism because it is only meant to be constructive. 

Also, understand your teachers if they can’t make any exceptions because they also have a job to do. So, if you communicate that you aren’t prepared and they say they cannot make any changes, don’t take it personally because they respond this way when they feel like they have given you the proper amount of time or because the DP schedule does not allow them to.

 

I know this was a lot of information, but I hope that these tips will help you in some way, shape, or form. PLEASE avoid any of the terrible loops mentioned above–take it from me, it is the worst position to be in and very hard to get out of. If you decide to be part of the DP program, believe in yourself and push yourself to be better. You don’t know me but I believe in you! No matter what you decide to do, if it’s what’s best for you, it does not matter. Remember, your mental health is important to protect, especially if you’re trying to be learning in school. Good luck on your journey and I’m sure success will follow wherever you go!