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From the admissions office: Practical advice for university essays and applications

This post is part of a series in which admissions officers answer questions about International Baccalaureate (IB) student university applications.

There’s no secret formula to creating the perfect university application. Universities want to hear about how you learn and the unique projects and the assignments that define your individual interests. IB programmes offer students a framework that can shape those interests and show where you will go during the next stage of your education.

These five pieces of timeless advice from two admissions teams discuss the ways in which IB students can tell their story. Although entrance to your dream schools is not guaranteed, one thing is certain: IB students have plenty to talk about in their university application essays.

“Having the kinds of dispositions, skills, knowledge that prepares you… to face challenges when they come along and surmount them and to be comfortable with all the kinds of differences that you’re going to face in life that’s what I think the IB prepares you for.” Brian Spittle, DePaul University

“All the things you do as part of being a high school student all integrate as part of a program, and it means you’re not only just achieving things but you’re integrating yourself as a learner who can be… active on that campus.” Jonathan Burdick, University of Rochester

“Don’t be affraid to say that ‘look, this was a difficult course I struggled with. This was new for me, it wasn’t just rote learning,… it was actually asking me to think about what I was learning.'” Brian Spittle, DePaul University

“It’s not an essay in the subject students plan to major in so they may think that a college isn’t gong to value that extended essay topic because it’s not about engineering and they want to be an engineer. But the truth is, that is the opposite of what colleges want.”  Jonathan Burdick, University of Rochester

“The expectation is that if a student was doing well in the high school setting that is probably going to be a really good indicator of how they are going to do in the future.” Debra Von Bargen, Standford University

We would like to extend a special thanks to Brian Spittle, Jon Burdick, and Debra Von Bargen for sitting down with us in 2016 to offer this timeless advice for IB students. You can learn more about DePaul Univerisity, the University of Rochester, and Stanford University by visiting their websites.