Tricks of the Trade: Personal Projects Pointers

Personal Projects at CDS are a right of passage for every student that is either an upperclassman, a current sophomore, or a freshman. Each student that is in the Upper School has had to complete or will have to take part in making a personal project in the 10th grade. Seniors and juniors have lived through the process, and volunteer advice to lowerclassmen. 10th grade students each have started their project and have something to say about the effect of it on their lives in and out of school. Additionally, 9th graders are less than a year away from commencing their project, and will be able to look to other students and supervisors for advice and help.
Current sophomore, Ava O’Connor, provided tips as to how to stay on top of deadlines for the year-long endeavor, saying, “Start your project over the summer, and your advisors have done this many times and are there to help you; make sure you listen to their guidance.” While the project seems like a lot of work, the CDS Coordinator of Personal Projects, Sabrina McCartney, shared that one should, “choose a project that you are passionate about then it will not seem like extra work; it will be something that you love to do.” The projects can have a heavy impact on your future, for instance like Hallie Sands said, “I was able to take my passion to the next level and found a larger purpose that will affect me in ways I thought unimaginable. I have just been accepted to SUNY Cobleskill for canine training and management, as my dream career is to train military dogs for first responders and military personnel.” Additionally, according to O’Connor, “It should be something for you and revolving around something that you love to do. It doesn’t have to be earth shattering; your passion for the subject will make your work stand out.”
The project does come along with added stress, and work to the regular load that students have, especially in an IB school. O’Connor said that even after completing her project over the summer, she is “really focusing on catching up with all of the documentation. It kind of feels like something in the back of mind, but it’s not the first thing I prioritize when I’m sitting down to do school work.” Do not get too behind, and help will be given to limit the difficulty and stress of the project. However, Sands said, “If you are dedicated in completing your project, there may be rewards in the future. They may be external rewards from people or organizations around you, or they may be internal with a sense of accomplishment.”
Additionally, there are many other positives to the project. O’Connor said that, “It’s really fun getting to see different sides of my classmates. Everyone is digging into a more personal piece of themselves and getting to share that with each other.” Even McCartney expressed that personal projects, “provides [students] 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 confidence to become principled, lifelong learners.”