In Other News: Extended Essay Blues


Luke McCullough holds his extended essay book with pride as he marches through the next step of his journey in IB.

The International Baccalaureate program at North Atlanta is one that comes with a presumptuous preconceived notion. One of pride and academic achievement, one that seems to fly by in our short-lived years in the 11 stories. One that takes the grueling obstacles of internal and external assessments with ease, but it is the longest and most dubious one of all that throws fun-loving juniors in a funk: the extended essay. Currently, the eleventh-grade IB juniors are facing this formidable phenomenon, from every perspective. 

The way the cookie crumbles, or, the way the extended essay is constructed depends specifically on what subject area and question the student chooses to cover at the beginning of the fall semester. The most common, literature, and the path less traveled, science. Peyton Mosley is one of these stout souls who decided to take up science as her topic, her question revolves around the probable correlation between music and motivation. Science extended essay students face the unique challenge of having to execute an actual experiment along with their sourcing, which is what Mosley expressed difficulty in keeping up with. “I underestimated how much I needed to be doing, and how well the timeline was set up for me when we started last semester,” She said, “Time management and balance have helped me get back on track.”
The authorial choice of decision comes hand in hand with the second EE topic: Literature. Luke McCullough has chosen the book of “The Virgin Suicide”, and, along with the rest of the literature crew, gets to avoid the pain that is source analysis. McCullough has enjoyed the process of annotating the novel but is skeptical when it comes to the remainder of the Extended Essay process. He expresses his difficulty with junior year by paralleling the essay with his perfectionism. “This type of stuff has been really hard for me with test scores, rankings, and everything like that,” He said, “The biggest thing I have learned is that focusing and trying your best is the most important.”

Lastly, and historically the most in-depth of the essays: history. Praying for a downhill climb, Halle Pray takes on the subject with grace, focusing on the patriarchy and Mary Queen of Scotts. With ten source analyses in the bag, Pray has moved on to the next step of the process: stressing about the next process. She especially expresses an issue with connecting everything together in the ultimate copy of the paper. “Junior year is what I was expecting, I had low standards…,” she said. “It is what it is.”

Lastly, a perspective that most disregard the chance to consider: an advisor. Specifically, Danielle Costarides, the director of International Baccalaureate, and an advisor for some of this year’s bummed-out juniors. Costarides is busy, but luckily is able to find time for her mentees, at least, those who want it. She expresses an issue with avoidance in her students and hopes that they will someday face the reality that is their impending Extended Essay. She says, “With any EE, You have to accept that you must go through the process of research analysis and evaluation, and not just turn it into something at the last minute. It does take several months, there is a track, and there is a process.” 

Though these next few months put a strain on the workload of our IB juniors, the light at the end of the tunnel does still shine. McCullough mentions how thankful he is for the opportunity to learn, as we all should be. The extended essay may be brutal, but it should not be taken for granted.