How I've benefitted from the Diploma Programme

An Open Letter by Jackson Huang, IB Diploma Graduate
March 14, 2017
Over the years, the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme, a globally-recognised curriculum for senior secondary students, has worked up quite a reputation for rigour and difficulty. Five years ago, I was anxious about starting the Diploma.  Am I good enough? Can I handle the workload?  Will all the hard work be worth it in the end?  

Having graduated from the IB in 2014, I can confidently say that the Diploma Programme was the right choice for me.  In this open letter, I highlight just several aspects of the IB Diploma Programme that have particularly benefited me in both my personal life and my academic studies.


The first aspect is the depth of understanding required by the IB curriculum.  Students are required to study three Higher Level subjects in which they are exposed to increasingly complex concepts that often wander into the level of early university study—a scary nightmare for some students but an exhilarating opportunity for others. The concepts I learned in my Higher Level subjects were engaging and gave me a real academic challenge.  The depth of the IB curriculum was also excellent preparation for university.  Being familiar with certain concepts in the first year of university makes the transition from high school much less stressful.


I also particularly liked the Extended Essay, which is a core component of the IB Diploma Programme.  The Extended Essay is an independent research project that many students in non-IB curricula don’t get a chance to complete until their fourth year of university.  I completed my Extended Essay in chemistry.  The project pushed me well beyond my comfort zone.  Through the process of communicating with research labs at universities, designing and running experiments, and sacrificing lunches in the noble pursuit of knowledge, I realised that scientific research is in fact my passion.  Needless to say, this realisation—a direct consequence of the Extended Essay—has already had a major impact on my life and my career trajectory.  I’m lucky that I was made aware of what I want to do early on in life.  The research project also opened other doors: I won the national BHP Billiton science competition and represented Australia at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in the United States.  Both of these were totally unexpected outcomes.  Who knows what the IB has in store for you?


I’ve also benefited greatly from the Diploma Programme in my international university admissions.  Before taking the IB, I would have never thought of applying to prestigious international universities.  The international nature of the IB naturally gave me a more global perspective, and the strong reputation of the IB Diploma gave me the confidence to apply.  Along with other factors, I believe that my success in the highly-reputable IB Diploma Programme significantly helped in my successful admission to US colleges, including Harvard, Amherst and Williams.  Both the global outlook and the reputation of the Diploma Programme has provided me with opportunities that I would not have had under the traditional state curriculum.


I’ve also gained a lot in terms of personal growth.  CAS is a great part of the IB.  The requirement to be actively involved in the community and participating in an active, creative lifestyle has created a habit that I keep in my daily life today.  I am always looking to try new activities and enrich my life with interesting things other than just textbooks.


Contrary to what many students might think: the IB Diploma is not impossible.  Like everything, it takes a bit of hard work and dedication.  I’ve benefited greatly from the IB Diploma, and it has proved to be the right choice as a senior secondary curriculum for me.  I highly recommend the IB Diploma to early secondary students who are looking for a unique, challenging and rewarding academic journey.


Short Bio

Jackson Huang graduated in 2014 from the Queensland Academy for Science, Mathematics and Technology with a perfect IB score of 45.  For three years, he has helped IB students increase their scores through private tutoring in many subject areas, with a particular focus on IB English Literature and Language & Literature.  Jackson currently teaches a student-friendly online course called the Analysis Bootcamp for IB English, which teaches English students of all levels the step-by-step process to scoring a 7 in IB English.  Visit Jackson’s website to learn more.