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Highlighting The Extended Essay In The College Admissions Process

Rachelle Bernadel is the IB’s University Relations Administrator at the IB Global Centre in Bethesda, MD, USA. She is also an IB graduate of Parkdale High School in Riverdale, Maryland.

EE Meme

This meme really embodies how I feel about the Extended Essay, now that I have graduated that is! Your students have just written an amazing Extended Essay (EE). Those 16 plus pages of pure magic are the culmination of the many skills they have honed over the past year. The EE is a living and breathing conduit to create, synthesize and disseminate knowledge. It allows students to really take their passions and form that into a scholarly research document. Now what?

As with every aspect of the Diploma Programme, the quality of the EE is always the result of the effort put forth by the student. The beauty of every aspect of the IB is how much student context and cultural perspective affect how the IB is experienced. For me, as a daughter of American, Trinidadian and Haitian cultures, I found the IB to be a way for me to take my heritage and make meaning of it. My extended essay focused on the historical impacts of Haitian immigration into Florida. The entire process from interviewing my father to get his perspective, to scavenging the University of Maryland library to find the knowledge that the internet just could not provide was an exhilarating process to say the least.

I use this anecdote as a springboard to help your students think of ways to communicate their EE throughout the different aspects of the college admissions process. The IB is heavily experiential but supported with the pedagogy to give students the tools to make sense of all the knowledge they consume.

  1. Interview, Personal Statement—Tell a story: Encourage students to discuss their EE focus: how the idea was birthed, strategies/skills that were learned and how it could affect a university trajectory. These are just the beginnings. The EE can be used as a tool to essentially teach admissions officers how IB students think through the eyes storytelling. Stories and experiences resonate.
  2. Application questions: A very common question on university applications is “Tell about a time when you had to overcome a difficult experience and how you approached it.” This again is an ideal time to let the EE shine. Students can discuss the communication, organizational and writing skills they had to acquire in order to be successful. Some universities even as “What is the longest piece of writing you have ever done?” For IB students the answer is clear.
  1. Activities section: Oftentimes IB students do not see the alignment of all the different components of the IB they are doing and how they inherently reinforce each other. If a student does a volunteer experience that could relate to their EE topic, the activities section is a place to again touch on it.

These are three overarching areas that the EE can easily be integrated within. With a little creativity and personality, students can successfully showcase this CORE component on their application.

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