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Engineer hopeful- Does my IB Extended Essay topic matter?

  1. Apr 20, 2016 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data
    I'm currently trying to decide on a topic for my IB Extended Essay, which is essentially just a long-term essay I'll be working on for the next 8 months or so. The topic of the essay is limited to IB courses I've taken so far, in addition to a few other types of topics that are sort of interdisciplinary. I'm planning on going to college for engineering, but I'm not sure what kind yet. My first thought was to try and find a topic for my Extended Essay that might look good on a college application for an engineering major, but I'm having some trouble finding something that I think will be relevant to engineering in general while still being specific enough to score well. Should I even bother trying to do that, or just focus on trying to find a topic I enjoy?

    2. Relevant equations

    3. The attempt at a solution
    I briefly looked into a topic on the influences of technology on society, but I wasn't sure how to narrow it down. Besides that, I could do something on math, which I'm good at, but I haven't been able to think of any math topics and I'm a bit afraid to attempt it because I've been told math Extended Essays are quite difficult to do well at. But I'm still open to considering it. Other than either of those options and IT systems, there's not really anything I can choose as a topic that's relevant to engineering.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 20, 2016 #2


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    I'm not sure that the topic you pick matters much to the admissions committee. They will see your grades, test scores and your IB diploma, your application essays and your recommendations. These will form the core of their decision. I wouldn't worry too much about relating your topic to engineering. Pick something interesting to you that you are passionate about. That's not only the best way to do well, but admissions committees pick up on passion especially if it reflects a common thread in your life (i.e., if your topic dovetails with extracurricular activities, volunteer activities, coursework, etc.).
  4. Apr 21, 2016 #3
    Further, if you do your EE on something you care about, it is more likely that you will find yourself doing more "cool stuff" with it. As in, you will work harder, find more opportunities, etc.

    I don't think it would matter what you did your essay on for college admissions, so long as you did it. That's the big part: you can work on a project for 8 months.

    The other thing is, no one can predict how this experience will be for you. It could just be something you do because you have to, and that's it. A job done.

    Or it could be something that ends up leading you to doing other related stuff, that ends up being stuff colleges care about. For e.g, maybe you like x field, and your EE leads to you getting an RA somewhere, etc.

    Also, Cal Newport's book on college admissions is the best resource I've found. There's only so much you can do to prepare. At the end of the day, what matters is that you worked hard, did the best you could, and send in your applications. Whatever will happen will. It doesn't matter too much where you go to school, as long as it's not completely bad. Just work hard, find opportunities for yourself, etc.

    At least, that is what I learned. I worried myself silly in the past over this.
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