The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

Graduate schools report surge in applications

Graduate school has become a waiting period before going into the work force for some college graduates. Sophomore real estate finance and journalism double major Hanna Nelson is planning on going to graduate school so that she can further her education and gain experience, without having to wait as long for opportunities that might not be there when she graduates due to the slowing economy.

“I feel like I need to give myself more options because there might not be a lot available when I graduate,” Nelson said.

In 2007, the Council of Graduate Schools reported a nine percent increase of applications to graduate schools nationally. The increase in applications can be explained by the idea of a declining value of college degrees, an increase in the college-aged section of the population and the economy slowing.

“It’s common for when the economy dips, graduate school applications go up,” said Susan West, director of graduate programs and assistant dean of the University of Alabama College of Commerce and Business.

The last time there was a surge of applications was in 2002 and 2003, after Sept. 11 and the dot-com bust.

A 2008 Internet survey of 100 students from many colleges, including SMU, invited through the social networking web site Facebook, shows that 68 percent were worried about the economy. Nineteen percent are thinking of or planning on graduate school because of the economy.

“If the job market is good or if the job market is bad, it’ll affect the decisions of the undergraduates who are graduating,” said Barbara Phillips, assistant dean of the Office of Research and Graduate studies at SMU.

Going to graduate school allows students to stay out of the workforce when the economic forecast looks cloudy, while still becoming more desirable applicants for higher quality jobs.

The graduate schools that are seeing the most increases in applications are business schools.

The Graduate Management Admission Council’s (GMAC) 2007 Admissions Trend Survey shows that all programs other than Ph.D. programs saw an increase in applicants.

Part-time programs allow graduate students to work and take class. These master’s programs saw a 58 percent increase and the MBA programs saw a 43 percent increase.

Full-time programs did not see as much of an increase, but the master’s programs did see a 17-percent increase and the MBA programs saw a 36-percent increase in applicants.

The Cox School of Business has not finished its application cycle for the 2008-2009 school year, but it has reported that the school has received a strong volume of applications for this year.

Alabama’s College of Commerce and Business has seen an increase for the 2008-2009 school year as well. The University of Texas at Austin’s McCombs School of Business has seen a 25-percent increase of applications to its full-time MBA program this year.

West thinks that the expense and time commitment from medical and law schools is part of the reason why business schools might be more attractive. Another reason is that business degrees and master’s degrees can often be something you use in anything you do, whether you are a doctor or an artist.

Other factors that could explain the increase in applications include a roughly two percent increase in the early-twenties age bracket of the population, pressure from parents to keep going in education and students seeing a college degree as not guaranteeing a good job.

“A bachelor’s degree isn’t as prestigious as it used to be, obviously depending on your major,” said Lulu Seikaly, a senior political science and French double major.

Seikaly wants to work for the United Nations, but said that employees usually have to have a master’s degree. She thinks that going to graduate school offers more opportunities to work with better salaries.

The Collegiate Employment Research Institute at Michigan State University shows that the market hasn’t bottomed out like it did in 2002. While the hiring increase has steadily decreased since 2004, the CERI estimated a two percent hiring increase for 2007-2008. Small and medium-sized employers are cutting back, but large employers are expected to increase hiring college graduates by nine percent. Even starting salaries are expected to increase by four to five percent.

Computer science and information technology majors are expected to have the best outlook when it comes to job hiring, regardless of the size of the company. CERI projects that there will be more of a demand than there are available IT graduates.

CERI states that the problem isn’t that there are a lack of jobs for college graduates; it is that graduates expect higher paid and higher quality jobs. If those higher jobs aren’t there, the job market looks worse than it really is.

West said she wants students who want graduate degrees and aren’t applying just because they can’t get the job they want right away. However, she realizes that the job market is on many students mind.

“The students know not to mention [not getting jobs] when they apply. But do I think they’re thinking it? Of course,” West said.

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