Demystifying the Diploma Programme – Part Three

The first few weeks of January bring a special sense of excitement for every Grade 12 student. The Class of 2016 has entered the home stretch of their GNS careers, and university acceptances have begun appearing in mailboxes. As outlined in my previous entries, students who are currently completing the Diploma Programme can anticipate a pleasantly difficult choice ahead as they sift through their offers to decide which university and program are the best fit for their post-secondary aspirations.

Of course, we all know that being accepted is only a small part of the equation, and what a student does once he or she gets to university is what really matters. At GNS we have a proud tradition of equipping students with the tools to thrive in all aspects of the university experience. I often hear students who have successfully completed the DP remark that the post-secondary transition seems less stressful to them than to their peer group. While the reasons for this are unique to each student, my contention is that the ability to budget time effectively, a skill so critical to university success, is instilled in DP students during their high school years. Because of this, they are better prepared to handle the workload thrust upon them as they pursue their university studies.

A recent study done by the University of British Columbia further demonstrates that, for the most part, Diploma Programme graduates report being better prepared for the trials and tribulations of life on a university campus. UBC surveyed first year students about their perceived preparedness for all aspects of university life. The first two tables relate to the confidence of IB students in terms of the skills required to find success in their academic studies.

New UBC Students – Start of First Semester

Skill/Ability IB Non-IB
Research skills 35% 9%
Library skills 24% 9%
Ability to read and comprehend academic material 43% 21%
Ability to prepare and make a presentation 47% 22%
Analytical and critical thinking skills 38% 21%
Ability to be clear and effective when writing 40% 20%
Ability to take personal social responsibility 55% 47%
Quantitative (mathematical and statistical) skills 31% 27%


New UBC Students – End of First Semester

Skill/Ability IB Non-IB
Research skills 53% 37%
Library skills 48% 27%
Ability to read and comprehend academic material 62% 43%
Ability to prepare and make a presentation 43% 29%
Analytical and critical thinking skills 51% 41%
Ability to be clear and effective when writing 46% 37%
Ability to take personal social responsibility 65% 58%
Quantitative (mathematical and statistical) skills 34% 31%


The results speak clearly. There is no doubt they suggest that DP students were more confident in the skills they developed during their formative years, and that they perceived those skills put them in a better position to find success in university.

Even more interesting was the information offered by students in terms of their participation in university life outside the classroom.

In which of the following activities have you been involved in at UBC? IB Non-IB
Participate in a conference 24% 19%
Student leadership activities 30% 16%
Research with a faculty member 7% 5%
Volunteer work 54% 30%
Community service as part of a class 12% 9%
Student government 6% 3%
Political activities (e.g., local, municipal, provincial, federal other than student government) 9% 4%
Tutoring or teaching other students (paid or voluntary) 21% 11%
Attend special lectures 38% 29%
Join an intramural team 15% 15%
Mentoring programs (student to student, alumni to student) 11% 8%
Student club or organization 63% 46%


While these results are limited the findings of one university, it is important to note that UBC accepts the second largest percentage of Diploma Programme graduates in Canada, trailing only the University of Toronto.

So now we've looked at the successes Diploma Programme students find when applying to university and the advantages they enjoy once they've arrived. But let's rewind to their time at GNS. What makes our approach to the Diploma Programme, and the International Baccalaureate Programme in general, unique?

We'll dig into that next week.

by Glenn Zederayko, Head of School