What everyone’s ought to know about the personal project?

December 10, 2020

Year 10s, are you ready? All of us have had to do a “Personal Project” in Y11. Build a boat. Creating an Interpretive dance. Write a novel. Whatever topic you choose, you will be working on it for a whole year. The premise of PP is to complete a project that has personal significance to them for the duration of one year. Even though this project might seem unnecessary and just one more thing to worry about, it can be seen as an opportunity to broaden your depth on a subject you are interested in.

So, how will it affect the students? The PP can serve as an achievement students can show off. As Mr Printer, the Personal Project coordinator has explained, this project puts students on track for their CAS project or Extended Essay if they choose to complete the IB diploma. “It definitely prepares for the CAS project and it prepares for a lot of things…it gives you a sort of springboard for the Extended Essay as well,” another teacher said.

This project provides students with the opportunity to consolidate their learning and develop important skills they’ll need in both further education and life beyond the classroom. It also helps them develop the confidence to become principled, lifelong learners. However, students always have strong opinions about the process of this project.

Some students have a positive attitude about the project and believe that it is a great way to work on something you are interested in or curious about. “While we can do that at school, now you’re not restricted; you have practically no limits and you are surrounded by support staff and peers to create something truly incredible … , that you can showcase, while at the same time being really passionate about,” a Y11 student said. Also, they stated that the amount of time spent on the project is worth it, saying “the project takes up a lot of your time, especially when one has to balance out their studies, extracurricular activities and the project. However, all the time that I have spent working on my project, were by far the most fun and interesting moments.”

On the contrary, some students liked the idea about having the opportunity to complete the project but believed that it was far too time-consuming and poorly structured. “I think that the MYP project is a good way of looking at what we like, but I think it’s just a waste of time and it takes up too much of our personal space. It feels like more stress and I don’t like that, but I think it’s a good idea that can be improved,” said a Y11 student.

Many students often question themselves as to if the Personal Project really matters. One always wonders if all the hard work that they put into it has any benefits in the future. The short answer is no. “Do what you will with your personal project, but it’s really not that important at all. So long as you actually do it and put some genuine effort behind it, the rest is totally optional. Would it be awesome if you went above and beyond with the project? Hell yeah. Does it matter in the grand scheme of things? Eh…no. Universities won’t care.” said a Y11 student.

That being said, it depends on where you plan to study, and what you do your personal project on. If you do something really ‘exceptional and outstanding’, it would make sense to include it in your personal statement, personal profile, or equivalent. It would allow the admissions staff to see that you are dedicated to the subject, and have done something impressive in the past related to it.

Additionally, many students mention that the assessment process is complicated, sometimes confusing, and could be seen as counterproductive since it shifts the emphasis away from the actual project undertaken and focuses instead on evaluating a written report according to highly technical criteria. This can be seen as a tedious task to do as one would rather just have fun in researching and creating the product instead of writing a report. Nevertheless, this prepares one for the IB as one will need to write countless essays, write up many reports and work through various projects. The practice one gains by doing the personal project can be beneficial for students who want to do well in their projects in the IB.

So, do you think the personal project is worth it? Do you think that one can gain lots of important skills by doing the personal project? It is worth it if one chooses the topic they really love. Choosing something simple and interesting is the best way of going on about PP. However, there are certain aspects that are truly confusing about it due to the assessing process. Nonetheless, there is good value in the project as IB schools wouldn’t do it if they didn’t think that it had real value, or the potential to have real value. “We think we spend a lot of time on the curriculum, but giving the students a chance to do something meaningful, with official sanction and official time, theoretically is good and we’d like to see it be good in actuality as well,” said ib.org.

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