In IB, part of the core curriculum is to complete and document a minimum 18 months of a ‘CAS’ program. CAS stands for Creativity, Activity and Service and is similar to taking part in a CCA, except in CAS a student needs to do a minimum of three activities: one that involves creative and innovative thinking, being more physically active, and engaging with, and contributing to the local/global community.
Choosing your CAS activities can be quite difficult because there are endless possibilities as to what you can choose. However, it should actually encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and gain new experiences. Here are 4 pieces of advice for selecting your CAS activities.
1. Join activities you are interested in
While this may appear obvious, one may feel that they can’t join something because their friends are not interested and they will end up being alone. This was the case for me when wanting to do an animation class as a creative activity because I really enjoy graphic design but none of my friends wanted to join me.
When I signed up for it, however, I was able to make friends in the group while also doing something I really enjoyed after school.
Photo taken by author. During a music concert in December, my club animated Christmas related things and projected it onto one of the buildings. I animated the snowmen!
Furthermore, for my service related activity I was more interested in doing work in the local community because I have a lot of experience; ever since primary school I have volunteered at many different organisations, from helping out at the Willing Hearts soup kitchen to organising arts and crafts activities at PCF Kindergarten. I joined the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (MINDS) service at school as I wanted to know more about the PWID community and bring more awareness to it.
Photo sourced by author. Taken during one of my weekly dance and fitness sessions with MINDS.
CAS gives you the freedom to do any kind of activity you want as long as it fits into any of the 3 criteria, so do things you genuinely enjoy.
2. Relate your activities to future goals
Building on from the first tip, if you know what you want to do in university or beyond, do activities that relate to it.
SNCF’s coop club program is great for students who are interested in developing entrepreneurial skills and gaining exposure to real world businesses and cooperatives. If your school does not have a coop club, you can take the initiative to start one and learn about social entrepreneurship from SNCF!
Photo by SNCF. First coop club in MacPherson Secondary School
You do not need to start an entire new club, but joining activities that demonstrate your interest in a certain field would be great for college applications while also helping you deepen your understanding and experience of the field.
3. Go outside your comfort zone
IB is such a unique curriculum in comparison to others because extracurricular activities in CAS are integrated into its program. A learning objective of CAS is to undertake new challenges, so why not try something completely new?
Trying something new can be daunting but at the same time extremely rewarding. For example, when I tried out fencing for the first time, I was very nervous because it was so new to me and I had never done anything like it before but I instantly fell in love with the sport after the first lesson and felt I had found my passion. In the next 4 years, I began to compete locally and globally while representing the Philippines, which has been extremely rewarding.
Photo sourced by author. Taken during the U23 Asian Championships in Bangkok. I am on the right, wearing the Philippine flag.
CAS is all about developing yourself and your skillset, so choose your activities wisely.
4. Don’t overload yourself
Apart from CAS, you also have your six standard level (SL) and higher level (HL) courses, the Theory of Knowledge (TOK) essay and presentation, and 4000-word Extended Essay (EE) to complete; this all sounds very overwhelming! While CAS is a significant component of the IB, you should be balancing it with academics and time to relax.
While this is definitely easier said than done, one way to handle all your commitments is not overloading yourself with too many CAS related activities. You only need a minimum of 150 hours so overworking yourself will not be beneficial to you mentally or physically. Strong time management and organisation skills are of utmost importance during IB so sign up for what you can truly handle.
CAS should not be a burden. It should instead be an enjoyable experience throughout your two years of IB, allowing you to not only learn a plethora of different skills you can’t develop in the classroom, but also be a journey of self-discovery!
This article is brought to you by Samantha Sayson. Samantha is a rising senior at United World College SEA East Campus and is currently interning with SNCF. In her free time, she enjoys fencing and spending time with her dog named Ginger.