Professor Chris Cheng and IB Honors students in the lab. Small classes taught by professors virtually assure daily contact with the best people to write your rec letters.
I am the son of a mechanical engineer and an English teacher. From my father, I picked up a love of bits, pieces, things, and tinkering; from my mother, a love of languages, words, and tinkering. To my joy, my house and life are big enough now for me to be able to indulge both.There are two rules of tinkering. The most important one probably is that enunciated by Paul Erhlich - to save all the parts. Erhlich's hope was that that rule could save the planet. In my experience, it also saved a radio, a washing machine, a VW bus and my PhD dissertation.
A second rule is that a tinkerer will use all the tools s/he has. If there is something needed but absent, and if it is just a matter of money, she may go out and buy it. But that is time, and almost work. Or, if it is just a matter of time, he may try and get by with some tool that is not quite fitted to the job. But that can be dangerous. Bigger hammers really don't solve most problems.
Nevertheless, regardless of the endeavor, a big toolbox filled with tools is an unquestionable asset. Largely, toolbox equipping is the goal of a college education, and there is absolutely no better time in life to do it. The tools are provided for you - mostly through courses - and all you have to do is pick them up. But some people end up with Ryoba®, Heuer®, or Stanley®, and some end up with cheap, imported knock-offs.
Who controls that? Largely, each of you, or rather, each of us. I started writing this issue because I have long been impressed - negatively - by students asking if topics were going to be on the test, or not reading assigned chapters, or avoiding real lab courses, or simply not studying. Lousy attitude on my part? Maybe, but I really felt students were coming to college actually looking for the cheap stuff. I certainly knew that when they hit the next level, the competition was going to be the guys with the expensive tools. For some, this isn't OK. IB Honors is for them.
That is really why IB Honors is so special. We do, indeed, have more difficult requirements and higher expectations than other biology curricula, probably than most curricula on campus. But IBH students leave the university with the finest toolboxes there are. And despite the fact that calculus, or organic chemistry, or statistics may sometimes seem unnecessary (especially just before a big exam, perhaps), the second rule of tinkering really does apply - at some point, some time, perhaps without warning, you will use every tool you have.
IBH students travel the world, publish research papers, and do all sorts of amazing things