IB seniors complete extended essays

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Submitted by June Lee

Senior June Lee’s essay focused on ethical diagnosis in the medical field.

Isabel Young, Staff Reporter

Seniors in the International Baccalaureate program recently finished their extended essays. The essays take two years to write and are the central focus of their studies in the IB program. Essay topics are determined by students and give them an opportunity to expand upon their studies.

“I was placed in physics instead of biology, so I wasn’t able to learn about medicine in class,” senior June Lee, whose essay focuses on medical ethics, said. “Because of the extended essay, I was able to explore the harmful role that stereotyping plays in diagnosis.”

For many students, the essays relate to personal interests or future career prospects, or a mixture of both.

“I spent most of my summers growing up on a farm,” senior Conor Hughes said. “So I did a dual-subject paper on economics and agricultural sustainability, to kind of go back to my family’s background and bring that into what I’m studying now.”

The process is a long and difficult one. IB students start researching their topics in junior year and spend the next two years compiling sources and information and preparing to write their papers. Essays are required to have a word count of 4,000 words.

“It was really the most challenging to sit down and write the essay,” Lee said. “Our teachers did a really great job in keeping us motivated and up to date with everything leading up to it, but the weekend where I had to actually sit down and write 4,000 words was a struggle.”

Despite the difficulty of writing, for many, the process was a beneficial one, and allowed them to focus their studies on topics they were the most interested in.

“It was by no means easy, but it was rewarding,” Hughes said. “Once you push through it and you’re done, everything else seems so much easier in comparison, and I was able to spend school time learning about what I wanted to.”

Outside of the extended essay, the IB program is known for its difficulty and unique education style.

“IB in general was an amazing experience,” Lee said. “I don’t mean that it was easy, because it wasn’t, but what I think was really special was that I could go to the library and study and actually have fun studying. Usually when I go to the library, I’m just talking to my friends, but when I was researching my paper I was actually interested in the subject matter.”

Over the course of their junior and senior years, students who choose to take the IB program have the opportunity to be exposed to an entirely different system of learning. But for many, the lessons they learn aren’t purely academic.

“It was great to finish the essay and have something I was really proud of,” Hughes said. “Through the process, you don’t just learn about your research topic, but more importantly, you really discover more about yourself, and I think that’s invaluable.”