CAS may seem like a slightly daunting task, or a secondary concern to the academic aspects of the Diploma, however, it is a great opportunity to take a break from your studies, engage in some other activities, and also compliment them through developing essential skills.
Fulfilling each requirement might seem like a chore, but don’t forget that you don’t necessarily have to do something new, you can continue with old projects or activities and look to extend your skills in these areas. As Dara explained, she did a mixture of new and old activities.
For Creativity, I took piano lessons for the entirety of DP1 & DP2 – this was not a new activity, but rather one I was continuing with. My Action component included kickboxing, basketball, a Via Ferrata school trip we did in DP1, as well as obtaining my “Sports Leaders UK” certification, which then meant I could lead sports classes and PE lessons and help organise sports days for younger students… I also worked with Amnesty International, and as a head of my school’s Dance Committee.
Similarly, Sophie continued with activities that she already enjoyed, football and swimming, while taking the opportunity to explore new skills through taking art classes. Sophie also volunteered at an old people’s home and “conducted a lot of fundraising events to fund my trip with Operation Wallacea over summer, which counted towards the different categories of CAS as well.” Through Operation Wallacea, Sophie participated in a conservation research project, building further skills which she has been able to put to use strengthening her University applications and during her undergraduate studies.
Completing these activities were not only necessary to receive the Diploma, as Sophie told me, “CAS ensures that students still continue to lead a balanced life.” Through completing CAS, Dara “learned a lot about… how I work with others, deal with stress, and manage my time”. It is these additional skills and experiences that make the CAS such an integral part of the Diploma Programme, assisting students to “help build and strengthen other personality traits and qualities, such as teamwork, cooperation or international mindedness, all of which also tie in heavily with the aims of the IB”, Dara added.
Although the projects you undertake may be a struggle at times, especially during busy times of the Diploma Programme, the heavy workload does have a value and outcome. Sophie explained that;
I think attending and fundraising for the trip with Operation Wallacea to Sulawesi, Indonesia… allowed me to experience things that I had never done before, which helped me grow as a person and gave me a lot of self confidence, which supported me throughout my last year of IB.
Dara was also able to utilise the difficult times to build and grow as an individual and a student of the IB, “learning to get through those struggles really emphasised the importance of putting my own desires to one side, and focusing on what I had to do.”
Beyond this, CAS also has great benefits when making your university applications. Dara explained that;
When I was applying for Economics, I spoke of how I had been able to apply my theoretical understanding of Economics to the the real-life situation of managing a budget and setting suitable prices whilst being a part of my school’s Dance Committee. Even though most of my CAS activities were irrelevant to my application, I strongly believe that they are still very useful for university, either for my fitness, social awareness or time-management.
In order to make the most of your time and experiences, both Dara and Sophie recommend doing things that you enjoy, in order to make the most of the time and to ensure you are getting the most out of the time to plan ahead and set yourself clear goals. These skills are not only essential for CAS but will help you in your studies at Diploma level and beyond.
So, don’t think of CAS as merely another tick-boxing exercise. You should have fun, build on your current skills and successes, and take the opportunity to challenge yourself to build new skills that will be beneficial to your studies and building into a well-rounded individual.