IB Diploma Programme: Paving the way to Oxford

Check out this story from our recent graduate, Lukas Herych, Class of 2022, as he shares how his experience as a student at ISP prepared him to study law at Oxford University.

We are excited to hear about your learning journey here at ISP and now at Oxford! Let’s start by hearing a bit about your background and experience at ISP. 

I was born in Prague, and until moving to Oxford, I lived in Prague my whole life.  I came to ISP at the beginning of 4th grade.

Being at ISP, even as a Czech student, made me a part of a third-culture society that gave my academic and personal life a whole new dimension. It has allowed me to connect with so many people with diverse experiences and ideas. This understanding was, and is, something I can bring with me anywhere I go in life, including university.

What has it been like to move out of Prague for the first time in your life?  How have you found the transition and living abroad?

So far, the transition to university has been quite smooth. Oxford is a very peaceful and historic city. My college – Lincoln – is located in the very center of the city. Lincoln is a relatively small college within Oxford and has a very tight-knit community and one of the most beautiful libraries in Oxford. The college system is somewhat of an Oxford phenomenon. A college is a distinct body that provides tutorials and accommodation and is the place where you spend most of your time. The university facilitates lectures and exams.

What was it like going from ISP to Oxford in terms of academics? Did you feel prepared for University?

The IB Programme at ISP was pivotal in preparing me for Oxford. The decisions I had to make regarding my classes were incredibly important, and they forced me to realistically assess my strengths and weaknesses as a student in order to make subject choices that would both challenge me and allow me to excel. Being able to reflect on my skills and integrate that realistic viewpoint into my learning was crucial. I always enjoyed my humanities classes, with all the reading, essay writing, and debates, so choosing law seemed like a great fit.

I appreciate the tutorial style learning at Oxford, which is highly individual and consists of interesting debates with my tutors. There is a lot of independence in having fewer contact hours for school, which I appreciate since it allows me to control how I manage my time to a large extent.

What did you learn at ISP that is making an impact on your University experience now?

Learning at ISP places great emphasis on research from a young age, and I have come to appreciate that as I progress in my academic career. We have been doing research projects in ISP since 5th grade, which has allowed me to develop and refine that skill over time.

The dedication and time you put into the research and preparation generally determine the quality of the end product.

What were your favourite classes at ISP, and why?

My favourite class in IB Diploma Programme was History. I loved the curriculum and the fact that we discussed relatively recent historical events, which I found interesting. I also got really passionate about my Internal Assessment and, later, my Extended Essay, which was also centered on history, specifically communist Czechoslovakia and the impact of the 1980s reforms in the USSR on instigating the Velvet Revolution. The sheer amount of research was exhaustive, and the fact that the topic was quite obscure only made it harder. Throughout this project, I really applied the years of research practice I received at ISP, and it paid off!

Has this experience transferred to what you are doing now in Law?

Yes, absolutely.  This research, and many other aspects from this class, are directly applicable to what I am currently doing in law.  The requirements for essay writing and critical thinking are very similar. Additionally, there is a need to understand the history of law in some cases – for example, my module on Roman law was very much about the interaction of history and law.

What are some memorable takeaways from your experience in the IB Diploma Programme?

One of my favourite memories comes from the weeks before the exam. We were given plenty of time to study, which I spent mostly in the library.

People would meet up and spend eight hours together reviewing a subject. There was a big sense of unity; everyone was in this together. We then got to celebrate all that hard work and determination at our graduation. 

This experience also proved to me the importance of self-determination. The teachers at ISP prepared us excellently, but at the end of the day, it is down to you and your willingness to show how much you want it.