Cause for Consideration: How Necessary Really is CAS?


Dennis Racket

Is CAS all the necessary? Of course, creativity, activity, and service are fundamental characteristics of the IB program, but some, like junior Staff Writer Ava Tomlin, beg to differ the necessity of these somewhat cumbersome and inconvenient requirements.

CAS, which stands for Creativity, Action and Service, is a fundamental aspect of the IB Program alongside academic learning. CAS is designed to encourage students to become involved in personal growth activities that comply with achieving the 7 pillar IB Learner Profile Traits. Typically, students participate in CAS related activities for 3 to 4 hours per week, documenting a total of 150 hours from the beginning of their junior year to the end of senior year. Experiences are recorded in an online system called ManageBac which helps to demonstrate evidence of students being involved in the arts, physical exertion, and volunteer activities and offers a space for reflection of the initiative outcomes. Students who fail to meet CAS requirements are not awarded an IB diploma even if they have satisfied all other diploma conditions. 

As a junior that is just embarking on the IB program, my opinion is that CAS is manageable, but I find it to be an inconvenient and somewhat fruitless aspect of the IB program. Before entering the IB program, my classmates and I were repeatedly told, “IB is not for everyone.” The warning (justified and necessary) is issued so that students are aware of how rigorous the IB program is. IB classes are arguably considered more difficult than AP classes, not because of more challenging content, but because of the drastic increase of work. In addition to the demanding course load, IB students are expected to complete their Extended Essay, a 4000-word research paper, and achieve impressive scores on IB Exams. The CAS element simply factors in as an additional, time-consuming box to check. 

Students who are part of the IB program are hardworking and ambitious; they have to be in order to meet the qualifications for the program. The majority of my IB peers are already involved in a multitude of additional activities, ranging from participation in Honors Societies, clubs, and additional hobbies unrelated to school. The fact of the matter is that most IB students already participate in their own interests and initiatives, so CAS often is just adding more work to an already busy schedule. 

Instead of encouraging students to strive toward these individualistic pursuits, why do we continue to rely on CAS activities and inundate people with the constant task of logging the hours and reflections? 

Without a doubt, it is important that students engage in activities with a broader national and international context to develop personal skills, but there must be a better alternative to CAS. So, is CAS the end of the world? No. I just don’t think it’s all that necessary either.