Students turn to graduate school in lieu of jobs

The economic recession is affecting students across the board, and can tip the scales on their decision to continue school or enter the workforce after graduation.

“I am one of the lucky ones,” said Rahul Yargop, senior in Engineering. Yargop was offered a full-time job at Lockheed Martin, one of the leading corporations within the defense industry.

“The defense industry is one of the most secured positions in the market,” he said. “I can imagine that a lot of students are going to grad school because times are tough, but I will possibly take part-time graduate courses also while working.”

There has been an increase in graduate school admissions from Fall 2005 to Fall 2009, according to statistics from the Graduate College at the University.

Increases exist in fields such as business, physical sciences and education, with art having the largest increase of 84 percent since 2005.

However, there are other factors in this decision than just the recession, said Charlotte Bauer, Graduate College communications specialist at the University. Some include increased recruitment efforts and new graduate programs.

From January 2008 to January 2009, there has been a noticeable increase in the enrollment of graduate schools at the University, she said.

“We are not through the entire cycle so it is too early to tell what the admission records will be for the 2009-2010 year,” Bauer said.

Tom Kissane, a senior and transfer student in Media has been at the University for two years. He has been considering graduate school for nearly a year because he feels that this is a “smart time to be in school.”

“With this recession, a lot of (seniors) understand that there is much more competitiveness in the job market,” Kissane said.

Networking can be key to gaining security, whether at school or in the workforce.

“Ways about going to get a job have become much more advanced. Instead of simply going to the human resources department of a company, we have to work a lot harder,” Kissane said.

There are many misconceptions about graduate school, including funding, the application process and teaching methods.

“Grad school can only be considered right depending on what you want in the long-term,” Yargop said. “If you want to become a professor or enjoy research, stay in school. But in my profession, hands-on experience is necessary.”

To survive as a graduate student in this economy, Kissane suggests to keep undergraduate spending as minimal as possible.

“It seems to be a necessity to gain a higher degree; undergrad degrees seem to be more similar to a high school diploma nowadays,” Kissane said.

Many seniors agree that undergraduates should be more open-minded and take courses outside of major requirements, which can expand educational experiences, create more well-rounded and prepared individuals.

“I am a competitive person, but I am willing to look into other careers,” Kissane said.

“Everyone has the potential and I wish that everyone can make it, but right now it’s tough. Branch out to see what opportunities are available.”