IB Student Profile: Jackson Huang

Why did you choose to embark on IB?

For me, the most appealing aspect of the IB was its academically-challengingcurriculum. Before the IB, I was excelling in all my classes in primary schooland early secondary school. I wasn't satisfied with what I was learning inclass, and so I was desperate for more intellectually-challenging things totackle.

How did you find out about IB and what it offers?

My family and I first heard about the IB curriculum in 2009(when I was in Grade 7) through the Queensland Academies' Young Scholarsprogram, which focusses on youth academic enrichment.

What are the best elements of studying IB?

The best thing about studying IB is probably the breadth ofknowledge that I gained. If I had stayed in the traditional Queensland secondaryschool system, I would have likely chosen subjects restricted to the sciences,mathematics, and an English subject. In the IB, we are required to study asocial science, a second language, epistemology, and no more than two subjects ofthe same category. Because of this broad curriculum, I was able to learn adiverse set of skills by exposing myself to all sorts of exciting areas likepsychology, Mandarin, and philosophy. I've also benefited from the depth ofstudy inherent in the IB curriculum. We learned quite advanced material in our so-calledHigher Level subjects. These subjects go beyond typical high school materialand expose students to undergraduate-level topics. As a result, the knowledge

I gained from my Higher Level subjects has given me a bigadvantage at university.

What have you learnt that you didn't expect?

The most unexpected thing I learned during the IB occurredwhen I was doing my Extended Essay, an independent mini-research thesis. Ichose to do mine on the chemistry of heartburn drug interactions. I can't say Ichanged the world through my little research project, but I suppose I learned,or created, new knowledge firsthand and not from a textbook. That's the natureof research. By definition, it's unexpected.

Were there any surprises?

There weren't too many surprises. What you see is what youget, but Theory of Knowledge (TOK) would have to count as a surprise. As partof this epistemology subject, we had to question what we knew, how we knew, andwhy we knew. If that sounds a bit mind-bending, then you definitely understandhow I felt!

What educational advantage did you or your parents hope IBwould give you?

We hoped that an IB Diploma would give me a global academiccredential so that applications to universities internationally would be asmooth process. That turned out to be very true. It also helps that the IB hasa reputation of being a challenging curriculum, which is a very good sign whenapplying to top universities in the United States and the United Kingdom. Iwould say that the IB played an important role in my successful admission to UScolleges including Harvard, Amherst and Williams.

What advice would you give to parents and studentsconsidering IB?

Before I started the IB, I was extremely nervous and unsureof myself. If you or your child is sitting on the fence, I would recommendgiving the IB a go. I've had a positive experience with the IB, as have many ofmy friends. The IB is hard, requires lots of hard work, and might not be theright fit for every student. However, I can say for sure that it is veryrewarding to finally cross the finish line after two years of intense learning.

Jackson Huang is the founder of LitLearn ” the comprehensive guide to all things IB.

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