The weakened economy may be affecting students' decisions to attend graduate school this year. Applications for graduate and professional programs such as the University's Graduate School of Business (GSB) are up, as many college students are opting to get their degrees while the job market is down.
"My guess is that the number of applications to graduate/professional programs, such as business, is likely being affected by individuals' perceived prospects of employment versus continuing study, and a 5.8% unemployment and expected low economic growth for 2002 can impact that decision," said Allen Sanderson, the associate chair of the department of economics.
Don Martin, dean of enrollment at the GSB, said that the number of applications is up this year, although he would not give a specific percentage until after the March 22 application deadline. Martin credits the jump in application numbers to more aggressive recruitment and a change in administration.
"I think that our new dean, Edward Snyder, has been received quite well at the GSB. There was a lot of positive reaction in the business world," Martin said. "Our office of admission did a lot of organizing with marketing. We had a great team that put together a super program."
The GSB has three application deadlines: November 30, January 18, and March 22. According to Martin, the March deadline usually has the smallest number of applicants. Admissions officers have only recently begun to read the applications for the first deadline.
"Because of our thorough application process, there's a two-month lag time," Martin said. "But our numbers are certainly up; there's no doubt about that."
Elias Bruegmann, a fourth-year economics concentrator in the College, has decided to skip the job hunting process and pursue a graduate degree in economics.
"I'd probably be doing that anyway, but I certainly would have looked at the job market more if it had been stronger," Bruegmann said. "I think there probably is a bit more competition this year for graduate school than [there] would be with a stronger economy."
According to a report released by the Collegiate Employment Research Institute at Michigan State University, employers this year are expected to hire 6 to 13 percent fewer college graduates than last year, and the job market for advanced degree holders will shrink by 20 percent.
Despite the bleak figures, some students are still pursuing the job route. "It's pretty easy to get interviews; I just don't know if anyone's hiring," said Ryan Mayo, a fourth-year economics and statistics concentrator who has interviewed with numerous banks.
The sluggish economy may not only be affecting graduate schools. "The same factor is likely at work in terms of high school graduates who may be choosing between looking for work and enrolling in a two-year community college program," Sanderson said.
"When the economy was booming, everyone predicted that applications would go down, but they actually went up, so I don't know how much of a factor it is," Martin said. "It may be a factor, but I don't think it is as much as people are making it out to be."