Mar 102010
Authors: Justyna Tomtas

More students than ever are eyeing graduate school as an option, according to recently released data from the Educational Testing Service, the organization that created the GRE, or Graduate Record Examination.

The GRE, a standardized test, is an admission requirement for many graduate programs in the U.S. as well as other English-speaking countries. The exam, created by ETS, measures verbal and quantitative reasoning, critical thinking and analytical writing skills.

According to the ETS, global GRE registrations increased 9 percent in 2009, reaching 675,000 and shattering 2007’s record high.

According to CSU’s Institutional Research Fact Book, CSU saw 1,054 new graduate students in the 2009-10 school year, compared to 991 the previous year.

“We typically see that when the job market goes south, which it has been with the economy over the last 18 months,” said Margi Cech, director of student programs for Graduate Center for Diversity and Access. “People choose this as a time to retool and update their training.”

While graduate school is viewed as a safe haven for anxious alumnus, it is not always the right answer, said Ann Malen, director of CSU’s Career Center.

“If the field does not require a graduate degree to get started in, it probably isn’t going to do anything good unless you have practical experience to go with it,” Malen said. “If (students) are just getting a degree because they haven’t found a job, there is no guarantee that it will be beneficial.”

Malen said it is important for students to have a specific career goal when looking into graduate school.

“It’s not unusual for students to look into graduate school if they can’t find a job. But what (students) need to do is make sure they have something in mind that they want to do with that graduate program,” Malen said.

Pamela O’Grady, graduate assistant counselor at the Career Center, said that nonetheless, graduate school is a good opportunity to make students more marketable.
“If students are ready to go, then graduate school makes them more specialized and targeted in what they are doing,” O’Grady said.

Mark McNutt, Public Relations manager of ETS, said that he is not surprised that GRE volumes are growing because students with a graduate or MBA degree will have a competitive advantage.

“Data from the U.S. Department of Labor shows that workers with graduate degrees are more employable and make significantly more money over a career,” McNutt said in an e-mail. “As landing that perfect job becomes increasingly challenging, students need to position themselves for success in the job market.”

Staff writer Justyna Tomtas can be reached at

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