With the unemployment rate steadily rising since 2000 to the
current 6 percent as measured in October, more students are finding
alternatives to getting a job right after graduation.
“I think it is a tightened economy,” said Brian O’Bruba,
associate director of the Career Center and career counselor.
“There are jobs out there, it may take longer to find one
For some students one alternative to waiting for a job or
getting a job in which they are less interested is to apply to
graduate school and advance their education.
“In general, when jobs are tougher to find, it is a good use of
people’s time to be in school,” said Patrick Pellicane, dean of the
graduate school. “If you find yourself unemployed and with no
prospects immediately, you have to do something with your
The slowing economy encouraged Dallas Blaney, a master’s student
in political science, to go on to graduate school.
“I always planned on (going to graduate school), but because I
wasn’t able to get a job it made me think about going on in school
sooner,” Blaney said.
Getting a graduate degree may also help Blaney get a job in
teaching, which he was not able to do with just his bachelor’s
degree in history.
Holly Gates-Peters, who is working on her master’s in speech
communication, came back to get her advanced degree after working
for three years in the corporate setting. She decided to go to
graduate school because her job in corporate human resources wasn’t
as rewarding as she had hoped. She was also encouraged to go back
because when she graduates in May 2005 she believes the job market
will be better.
Gates-Peters said of the 12 students in her program, at least
three of them came back because of the poor job economy.
Pellicane finds that like Blaney and Gates-Peters, many students
go to graduate school because they see more career choices.
“A graduate degree is more focused,” Pellicane said. “Students
are going (to graduate school) for a much more specific reason – to
get credentials that will open doors for them.”
Graduate school, however, requires a time commitment and
“For an individual it has to fit with their career goals,”
O’Bruba said. “Grad school is a very serious endeavor and
applicants have to be motivated.”
O’Bruba encourages students to analyze their motivating factors
to attend graduate school.
They should ask themselves is an advanced degree required in the
field? Would a full-time position help confirm the pursuit of
additional education and is it possible to apply to graduate school
and continue looking for employment?
“I would only recommend going to grad school to someone if the
grad work would help make them a better job candidate,”
Graduate school can possibly even hinder someone from getting a
job in certain fields by making them overqualified, O’Bruba
In certain careers a graduate degree can be helpful in getting a
job, but the reverse can also be true. Having job experience can
help one get into a graduate program. An example of this is that
admission into the master’s program for business requires job
Students seeking graduate school need to take into account these
factors and also use the resources at hand, O’Bruba said.
“Students need to make an informed decision using all of their
resources,” O’Bruba said
These resources can include the Career Center, career counselors
“Think about what you want from life and how grad school fits
in,” O’Bruba said. “Don’t settle for grad school. It should fulfill
a life-long dream, a personal or career goal.”
Possible info box:
Statistics from the Office of Budgets and Institutional
Number of graduate applicants by college
Sept 13, 2003 Sept 12, 2003 Change
Overall 5520 5876 +356
Veterinary Med.+Biomedical Sci 289 274 -15
Natural Sciences 1327 1543 +216
Intra-University 217 163 -54
Applied Human Sciences 727 951 +224
Natural Resources 270 271 +1
Engineering 1439 1399 -40
Business 349 316 -33
Agricultural Sciences 221 224 +3
Liberal Arts 681 735 +54
Unemployment rates according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
1996 5.4 %
1997 4.9 %
1998 4.5 %
1999 4.2 %
2000 4 %
2001 4.7 %
2002 5.8 %