Daichi Joseph Watanabe

Daichi Watanabe

SL: Japanese B, Music, Global Politics HL: Math,Chemistry,English A

Why did you decide to pursue an IB diploma?

Almost everyone in HIS begins their 11th grade year by at least attempting to take on the IBDP. I also personally felt that its challenges were appropriate for me, and that its rewards, both academic and credential, would be worth pursuing.

What advice do you have for current IB students?

This is a difficult question because beyond generic tips like “plan a schedule” and “time management is important”, the utility of any advice I could give is restricted by the unique situations of each IB student. For example, the months of November through January were extremely stressful for me because while I was supposed to be studying for mock exams, the deadlines for my college applications and my Math HL IA (internal assessment) were impending rapidly. Some of my friends were completely fine during the same time, because their college admissions and IA deadlines were either yet to come, or had already past, so their schedules were more manageable, consistently occupied by one thing at a time. For this reason, to answer the question, my advice to current IB students would be to try not to compare yourselves too much to your peers. These comparisons are useful in their own place, but they seem to have diminishing returns. Even for people in the same grade, the priorities tend to be different for people based on their classes and their plans for the future. It’s probably a waste of time to stress over how everyone is farther ahead than you on a certain common agenda like getting good grades or finishing your IAs; it’s much more useful to keep a clear view of your own unique situation so you can calmly and stoically focus on whatever the next obstacle is.

As an IB student, how did you shape your Diploma Programme studies to your interests?

I’m a somewhat scientifically oriented person, so two of the higher-levels I chose were chemistry and math. I chose to take standard-level music, because music is something of a passion of mine, and HIS has Takako-sensei, a phenomenal music teacher. I also imagined that music (or visual arts) would be a nice counterbalance to the stresses of the hard sciences. I took the rest of my classes as a matter of course, because the six subject groups needed to be filled with something.

What courses were most valuable?

For me, this is hard to say. It probably depends on the person. Perhaps the most valuable class is the class in which students get to socialize with their peers because socialization seems to be the way we stay mentally/emotionally stable.

Did the extended essay, TOK, and CAS prepare you for university?

Yes, these all prepared me for university in their own way (skip to the end for the short answer on TOK and CAS). One of the things I ended up doing in my first semester in college was writing three 2000-word essays. Some of my classmates were quite intimidated by this, but since I had done the extended essay and 6 IAs which (roughly) each account for one 2000-word essay, I was prepared for the amount of work. If I had to criticize the EE on one front, it would be to say that the criteria are so specific and detailed that for me, I felt that they took away the liberties of my thought. I could’ve written a much more meaningful essay if it had been “an essay you get to write about anything”, which was what we had been told up until 10th grade. TOK classes were very interesting, but the assessments we were graded on had poorly defined criteria which made it almost impossible to get a good grade in them by properly philosophizing about something meaningful. Also, the grades I got for each assessment were the opposite of my supervisor’s predictions. That’s not at all a criticism of the abilities or intelligence of my supervisor, who was quite experienced, but rather a testament to how ill-defined the criteria are. CAS was also interesting, and it yielded some good opportunities. However, especially towards the end, it ended up being a distraction from my overall success in the IB. I was prepared for university by both CAS and TOK by virtue of them teaching me that when there are obstacles that distract from a certain goal, but that nevertheless need to be overcome, the best thing to do is to get them over with as quickly as possible.