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Former pupil achieves astonishing IB results and heads to Harvard

Old Bryanstonian Aurelia Schmiegelow achieved astonishing IB results, 45 points, and will soon be heading to Harvard to study physics and biophysics.

We caught up with Aurelia before her next adventure to find out more about her time at Bryanston, what it was like studying the IB and how she’s feeling before the move to Boston.

Can you tell us a little bit about your time at Bryanston and what you enjoyed the most?

I came to Bryanston in the Sixth Form, looking for an environment in which I could balance my academic, musical, and creative goals, and extracurricular interests, within a diverse school community.

Bryanston gave me the freedom and opportunities to achieve my goals: from writing my Extended Essay on Superconductivity, to performing a piano concerto, rock climbing on the shores of Portland and winning a climbing team championship.

In hindsight, what I valued the most were my excellent teachers, who have inspired my academic pursuits and achievements, and the lasting friendships I made during my two years at Bryanston. 

How did you find studying the IB at Bryanston?

One of the main reasons I wanted to come to Bryanston was to study the IB. It was important to me to have the breadth and depth of the IB curriculum and the opportunity to take a combination of STEM, language, and humanities subjects in Sixth Form.

Through the Internal Assessments and Extended Essay, I had the chance to go beyond the normal curriculum and explore scientific writings and concepts I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to delve into.

Although the workload was hard at times - especially due to the ambitious nature of my coursework - through the support of my teachers at Bryanston, I was able to make the most of the benefits of the IB. Small class sizes also made it easier to receive the support I needed to succeed in scoring high marks.

I think my experience with the IB at Bryanston prepared me well for the type of research and writing that will be expected at university.

Studying the IB at Bryanston inspired both my application essays and my interest in interdisciplinary sciences, shaping my future goals and university ambitions.  

What are your dreams and aspirations for the future?

At Harvard, I aim to study physics and biophysics in order to gain a better understanding of what it means to be a scientific researcher, and perhaps even revisit my interest in superconductivity. Ultimately, I hope to work at the forefront of scientific research, concentrating on the intersection between fields.

After Bryanston, I had the chance to photograph the nature, wildlife and indigenous communities of Suriname and publish an article in National Geographic Traveller Germany. I also hope to continue such work in the future, combining my interest in photography and scientific research. 

What would be your advice to anybody looking at studying the IB at Bryanston?

My advice to anyone considering the IB would be that it is worth it, especially because you can continue studying a range of contrasting subjects, rather than having to limit yourself early on in your academic path. The IB is what you make of it, and it can be overwhelming at times, but for me, it was inspiring because I was able to explore my academic interests in depth, within the framework of the IB Diploma.

I think that in order to achieve a high score in the IB, it is important to be very organised in your notes and revision early on, and to be very sure of which criteria you need to fulfil in your coursework. I learnt that there is a big difference between writing a good piece of work and writing a good IA. There are a lot of online resources at your disposal including sample papers and sample coursework, and of course it’s always important to trust the advice of your teachers, who have helped many students succeed in their essays and exams. 

You are soon to be heading to Boston to study at Harvard – congratulations! What are you most looking forward to about this?

Much like at Bryanston, I am most looking forward to connecting with people from a diverse community with different perspectives, and exploring my academic goals further, making the most of the resources I am offered.

Bryanston helped me prepare for Harvard academically, through the IB and a Pre-University course in the Summer term before graduation. Aside from academics, being given the freedom to find a balance between my different interests, living a little more independently and experiencing a supportive community away from home was great preparation for life as a first-year in a different country and continent.

The experiences and influences I had at Bryanston shaped my university applications, and made all the difference in my acceptance to Harvard.