Initially I enrolled in IB because I felt I needed a challenge and the idea of taking the online Math HL course was very appealing. I was already a very self-motivated, independent learner and I believed I was well-suited to the opportunity that IB provided to delve deep into the various subject areas. IB required that I be focused and disciplined in the areas of time management and organization, but I never felt that it prevented me from participating in the activities that I loved, including varsity cross-country, badminton, table tennis, soccer, as well as being part of the Canada Games soccer team which involved travel to the city several times a week, and coaching Valley soccer and running soccer camps. It was challenging but worth it. The only time I considered leaving the program was after pre-IB when my friends did not continue with the program, however I am happy I stayed as I think even that experience has benefited me, as it forced me to expand my social circle and improve my communication and teamwork skills which has definitely helped me in university.
On a practical note, I did receive one full year of credit from Acadia University for my IB courses, so there could be a financial benefit to graduating with an IB diploma. I always planned to take the full 4 years for my bachelor’s degree, but the extra credit did benefit me as I was not required to take many courses outside my areas of interest, so I was able to take all of the core courses in Math, Computer Science and Physics, as well as some Engineering courses which helped me to explore various fields and leave my options open.
While the Extended Essay (in physics) and Theory of Knowledge components were not the initial draw to the program, and actually may have been slight deterrents, I feel that they improved my writing and presentation skills to the point that this might have been the greatest benefit of participating in the IB program: I received comments that my reports in University were well written and I myself noticed significant differences between my writing abilities and those of my group members in several courses; I received two research grants during my 2 years at Acadia, including a National Science and Research Council award and I was accepted as a transfer student to Harvard University this year. I am certain that my ability to write well and communicate effectively helped me in my grant applications as well as the lengthy admissions application process, so participating in IB definitely helped get me to where I am today, studying Electrical Engineering at Harvard University, and I am confident that the skills I gained will help me in my future endeavors.
Horton High School Class of 2017
Harvard University Class of 2021