Jessie completed two Diploma Programme (DP) courses in her public high school in Canada. More than twenty years later she explains the impact the International Baccalaureate (IB) had on her personal development:
It gave me a perspective that I never would have had otherwise, and I would not be the person that I am today… there’s nothing that was more important and more influencing on me than that two year period.
The above quote illustrates one of the many perspectives of IB alumni from a new study on the long-term impacts of the IB on the lives of graduates. Katie Wright of the University of Melbourne conducted 23 in-depth interviews with IB graduates from around the world, between the ages of 20 and 63, on the ways in which the IB may have influenced their professional pathways, attitudes toward learning as well as personal beliefs and overall worldview. The alumni in this study came from 14 different countries and participated in IB programmes from 1968 to the early 2010s.
Although the influence of the IB on alumni in this study was varied and multifaceted, a common thread that emerged from participant life stories was that the IB has the potential to powerfully shape the lives of students who participate in its programmes. Alumni suggested that one of the key impacts of the IB was helping them to develop dispositions and skills that have served them well both in further education and in life beyond.
Among these skills and dispositions, IB graduates cited the development of international-mindedness, love of learning, analytical and writing skills, and notably, critical thinking skills. A number of students suggested that it was not until many years later that they were able to see the full benefit of courses such as theory of knowledge (TOK). As one student commented on his DP experience in the mid- 1970s:
You know, I benefited more from [TOK] after I did it than when I was doing it … I think I was a bit immature from the academic perspective, I mean that was a very interesting subject, and I probably now get more out of thinking about the things that were presented at that time than I did when I was a student there.
In addition to developing key skills and attributes, many alumni highlighted the academic rigor and deep engagement with learning that they experienced in IB programmes. A number of graduates expressed that they have retained a love of learning and curiosity throughout their lives. Several of the more recent graduates in particular noted how the rigor of IB programmes prepared them for tertiary studies, easing their transition to university life and sometimes shortening the duration of study due to the credits earned from IB coursework.