Class of 2015 reflects on IB

Chaney Wynne

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Struggling through long nights, tedious assignments and endless amounts of work can be justified by the knowledge that in the future, it’ll all pay off. But will it?

DHS IBDP class of 2015 received their IB diploma in July and the immediate gratification of getting the diploma didn’t quite live up to IB alum and Georgia Tech freshman Richard Newsome’s expectations.

“The physical diploma was actually really disappointingly ugly,” he said, “but I’m still really proud of it.”

For Newsome, being in the IBDP route was anything but easy.

“I came into junior year with not much momentum at all, as far as how much effort I was putting in, and that really hurt,” Newsome said. “I was failing a class for the first time. It really kicked me into shape.”

Newsome soon adjusted to the new level of vigor in his classes. “I put a lot more time into my work, rather than just, well, doing it,” he said. “I settled into a groove of doing my work well, but finding time to spend with friends, run cross country, march in the band, floating between about five and a nine out of ten with stress throughout the two years.”

IB, he claimed, got him into Georgia Tech.

“I honestly don’t think I would’ve been admitted to Georgia Tech if I wasn’t a DP candidate,” Newsome said. “My SATs were a pretty solidly below their averages, and my GPA was about average, but with the number of college level classes, I was killing it. The added bonus of being able to drop ‘IB Diploma candidate’ into my admissions essays I think was the push I needed to get in.”

Freshman at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Bella Reiss agreed DP gave her a leg up in the admission process. Even with high test scores and consistently good grades, Bella Reiss credits the letters of recommendation she sent to colleges for giving her “an edge” over other applicants. IBDP, she said, provided her with more intimate relationships with her teachers than she could’ve gotten taking typical high school.

“I got to know teachers on a very personal level,” Reiss said, “and in return, they were able to write very solid recommendation letters. They really knew who I was. Honestly, I think my rec letters were really helpful in getting me in.”

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“I love the relationship I built with my teachers especially,” Bella Reiss. (In the photo: Noemi Griffith, Bella Reiss, Louisa Boswell and Spanish teacher Jesus Martinez) Photo courtesy of Bella Reiss.

IBDP also helped her prepare for the level of rigor in her college classes.

“IB definitely helped me be able to juggle a lot of things at once,” Reiss said. “Especially last semester, the freshman were very very overwhelmed all the time with the amount of work. In all honesty, I could not say the same thing. I felt like it was a pretty easy workload compared to IB.”

In addition, Reiss has been able to bypass a lot of the general college classes because of all the credits she earned from IB.

Newsome also felt his experience as an IBDP student has significantly influenced hisn college experience thus far.

“I think without IB,” he said, “I would’ve gone into college without knowing how it feels to put as much effort into school work as you need, and would’ve probably failed at least one of my classes first semester, just out of laziness.”

In Reiss’s geography class, she’s required to analyze of articles. While many of Reiss’s classmates went in summarizing and struggling, Reiss credits the analytical skills she learned through DP for helping prepare her.

“The IB curriculum teaches you to think critically and not in some phoney way,” she said. “I was able to contextualize things into a larger world.”

UGA freshman Zoe Bayer’s background in IB has prevented her from feeling the same anxiety as her classmates.

“Most freshmen that I have met this year have been overwhelmed by the workload,” Bayer said. “I have yet to be completely overwhelmed. The diploma program absolutely prepares you for the challenge of managing your time and balancing multiple assignments because of the amount of work you are required to complete in the program.”

Despite their varying levels of suffering throughout their years in the diploma program, they agreed that DP was worth the effort.

“100% worth it,” Newsome said. “It’s weird to think about where I’d be now if I was never in the Diploma Program.”