In the United States (US), students who participate in postsecondary education are more likely to experience a variety of positive outcomes (such as employment and higher median earnings) compared to individuals with a high school degree only. Previous studies indicate that DP alumni enroll, persist and graduate from college at higher rates than students who did not participate in the IB programme (Bergeron, 2015; Caspary, 2011; Halic, 2013).
“Postsecondary education is critical to the long-term success of our students,” said Head of IB Research, Brad Shrimpton. “Graduating from college and pursuing further education can help students earn higher wages and experience more positive outcomes later in life. That’s why it’s encouraging to see the results of this new study showing that US Diploma Programme students enroll in and graduate from college at higher rates than the national average.”
To further investigate these findings, researchers from SRI International conducted a study to explore the postsecondary outcomes of US DP students. This study included data for a total of 37,348 US DP students who graduated from high school in 2013. The sample consisted of DP candidates (students pursuing the full DP, with all of its required courses and components) and DP course students (students taking one or more DP exams). The majority of these students graduated from public high schools (93%). Below are some findings highlighted in the report.
In 2013, 82.2% of all DP students enrolled in university immediately after high school, compared to the US national average of 66%. DP candidates who received the diploma had the highest immediate enrollment rate (85.6%), followed by DP candidates (84.6%) and DP course students (79.7%) (see figure 1).
The majority of DP students (74.7%) enrolled in four-year institutions, compared to less than half of 2013 US high school graduates (40%) (see figure 2). In terms of selectivity, more DP students enrolled in more-selective higher education institutions (64.2%), compared to selective (27.4%) or inclusive institutions (5.5%).
DP students were also more likely to persist at university (continuing beyond their first year) than students nationally. The study found that 88.1% of DP graduates who enrolled in a four-year institution immediately after high school were still enrolled the following year. As a comparison, 80% of all US students who enrolled in four-year institutions in 2013 returned the following year (Kena et al., 2016). Persistence rates were highest among DP candidates who received the diploma (92.9%), followed by all DP candidates (90.4%) and DP course students (85.4%).
Of those DP graduates who enrolled in four-year universities immediately after high school, 61.6% graduated within four years (see figure 3). Comparatively, 41.1% of all US students who enrolled in a four-year institution in 2011 graduated after four years. Students who received the diploma had the highest four-year graduation rate (74.4%), followed by DP candidates (66.5%) and DP course students (55.8%). Additionally, four-year graduation rates were highest among DP students who both received the diploma and attended more-selective institutions (77.6%).
This study provides further evidence that US DP graduates experience more positive postsecondary enrollment, persistence and graduation rates than the average American high school student.