One of the sections included in the annual Senior Edition is a series of essays titled Seniors Speak. These works are written and submitted to The Acronym by members of the graduating class, allowing them to reflect on their experiences, share advice, and advocate for change. The writer of this piece is Ishita Bhattacharya (UIC GPPA ’22), who lived in 1506 and was one of the coolest people to ever go to IMSA.
I was extremely excited to come to IMSA because I believed it to be a perfect place to achieve my academic goals. Tired of attending English classes in which my teachers had no clue as to what my name was, I was excited to focus on subjects that I actually cared about with students who shared my interests. However, after three years of no sleep, I reflect on my decision to come to IMSA and wonder if I made the right choice.
One of the reasons I mentioned in my IMSA essays as to why I wanted to attend was the Student Inquiry and Research program. I was amazed that I would be able to perform research in any area that interested me at higher education institutions as a high schooler. However, junior year I found myself desperately searching for research projects that seemed remotely interesting. I came to IMSA believing that this research opportunity was only available to IMSA students. Yet, during my SIR summers, I found my ex-classmates on the same CTA routes as me discussing how much they enjoyed performing research on topics they were passionate about. Without the restrictions of the SIR program, my home school classmates were able to do any research at any time with anyone without any restrictions. If I hadn’t left, maybe I would have enjoyed my research experience as well.
Another reason I joined IMSA was for its academic rigor. I often found myself bored at my home school and believed that the IMSA educational program would suit me better. The teaching method at IMSA has definitely helped me to develop necessary critical thinking and analytical skills I wouldn’t have gained at my home school. The availability of teachers for help at any time was something I was not accustomed to, and found to be extremely beneficial. Yet, I found the academic rigor itself to be not as challenging as I had hoped. In defining our class level for college applications, we are instructed to define them as college prep. However, I found no difference in the level of difficulty of our SI-Biology class and amy freshman year biology class. How then, can we define our classes as college preparatory? In addition, when discussing IMSA classes with alumni, I always notice a distinct difference in the level of difficulty between old IMSA and current IMSA, in which alumni complain about IMSA not being as rigorous as it used to be. If I hadn’t come to IMSA, I would have probably been a more academically well-rounded and educated person.
Nevertheless, if I hadn’t come to IMSA, I wouldn’t have been able to meet the people who have become my best friends, the teachers who have become life advisers, and the person who I am proud to be today. While I came to IMSA for its academics, I stayed because of the people.