How to Make the Most of Your CAS Projects
CAS can be a very enjoyable and fulfilling experience if you make the most of your projects. To spare you some time, here are some tips on how to make CAS one of the most rewarding experiences of your IB.
Creativity, activity and service, commonly known as CAS, is one of the three elements of the IB that students have to complete if they want to obtain their IB Diploma. Sure, CAS may not sound like an intellectual challenge such as the Extended Essay or TOK, but it does require a significant amount of effort throughout your Diploma Programme. If you fail to meet the CAS requirements, you will not be awarded a diploma at all… and wouldn’t you love it to find that you’ve survived getting your head around 3 HL subjects, 3 SL, the EE and TOK only to fail at doing (basically) extracurricular activities?
From my experience as an IB student, I know that CAS can go two ways: you either love it to bits or you lose your mind complaining about having to write reflections for every project you do. But CAS is definitely not as bad as some students try to make it look. In fact, it can be a very enjoyable and fulfilling experience if you make the most of your CAS projects. To spare you some time, here are some tips on how to make CAS one of the most rewarding experiences of your IB.
CAS is your hobbies, not extra work
There is an ongoing obsession around IB students that CAS is just extra work chipping away your free time, probably because it’s forcing you to do stuff. It really isn’t.
Prior to the start of the IBDP, most of you have already been doing something that would count as a CAS project. Whether it’s a sport, or learning to play an instrument, or volunteering somewhere, we all do something CAS-worthy. Yet, it’s still surprising how many students groan and complain about having to do CAS. My all-time favourite complaint is: “I’m only in the basketball team because it counts for CAS”. That classmate had been playing basketball since he was little and absolutely loved the sport.
My point is, if you have a hobby, it will probably count as a CAS project. Okay, simply reading books or playing video games will not be enough, but you can make them CAS projects if you try: how about reading to children at your local library? Or organising a video game competition to raise funds for charity? You can do almost anything with the right mindset. Just remember that CAS is not extra work sent down from the evil IB overlords – it’s an opportunity for you to continue to enjoy your hobbies as part of a very demanding course.
This student turned her interest in fashion into a very successful CAS project.
Don’t force yourself into projects
This one’s a no-brainer. Don’t volunteer at an animal shelter if you don’t like dogs, and don’t sign up for after-school German classes if you hate languages. CAS gives you the freedom to choose your activities, so make sure you’re doing things that you like and matter to you. Don’t do a project just because your friend is doing it or because it will look good in your UCAS application. If you stick to doing things you find interesting, you will look forward to carrying out your CAS projects and the reflections won’t feel forced and meaningless.
If you really want to pump up your CAS, collaborate with your peers. This school raised funds to go teach little kids in the Dominican Republic!
Reflect as you go
According to all students who try to sound cool, the worst part of CAS is having to reflect on everything you do. Yes, it can be very annoying, especially when you have to reflect on how football helps you increase your cultural awareness and global citizenship. But, trust me, it’s even worse when you have to reflect on how an activity you did nine months ago was central to your personal development. Most of the people I know left reflections to the last minute, which was a complete nightmare for them when the time to complete them came. If you write a few lines on your journal after every project, or even just every week, you will fly by them and might actually see CAS is helping you grow. For all I know, you might even reach enlightenment.
Service – your new best friend
Okay, you don’t want to just complete CAS. Since CAS will take up a chunk of your time, you might as well use the projects to pump up your UCAS application and impress your prospective universities. Out of the three areas of CAS, service is the one more likely to help you. Service projects look great on any application – teamwork, charitable work, working for the community… They all make you look like a great person. Plus, service is pretty easy to combine with activity or creativity, and you’re bound to be doing one of those in most service projects. So, you should aim to do a couple of service projects to help you out in the future. Oh, and you’re likely to feel better about yourself if you spend your time helping others.
That’s all for now. All in all, just relax and enjoy CAS, even if you don’t want to admit you will.