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Kenneth Elpus
in press, Journal of Research in Music Education
Publication year: 2021

This study explored the transition from secondary to postsecondary education among a national sample of students who had and had not studied music in high school. Using evidence from the High School Longitudinal Study of 2009, a nationally representative longitudinal study of N = 21,440 American high school students who were ninth graders in the 2009-2010 school year, music and non-music students were compared for college admission outcomes. Specifically, music and non-music students were compared in terms of participation in the college admission process, selectivity of colleges applied to and attended, scholarship and grant receipt, and election of either an arts or STEM major. Comparisons controlled for the well-documented preexisting differences among those students who do and do not elect high school music study. Results showed that music and non-music students dropped out of high school, applied to college, attended college, received college scholarships and grants, and majored in STEM fields at statistically similar rates. Music students were, however, considerably more likely to major in a visual or performing arts field than non-music students. These results suggest that school music study does not disadvantage students in the transition to college, even when compared with peers who elected additional “academic” subjects in lieu of music.

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