Admissions and Records

Bryan Cole / The Collegian
National trend shows grad school numbers up while economy is down, but are they related?

It seems there is nothing like an economic recession to kick you right into graduate school.

At least this is what nationwide numbers are implying.

In February of this year, the unemployment rate was at its highest in the last 25 years: an alarming 8.1 percent.

When the numbers were looked at closer, the number for those who were unemployed and lacked a high school diploma was at 12.6 percent. For high school graduates it was considerably lower at 8.3 percent, and it was only 4.1 percent for those with a college degree.

For parents, these statistics may not be so unfamiliar, in the sense that the higher the education level, the more job security is guaranteed — a point often difficult to drive home to kids.

Karen Carey, dean for the division of graduate studies, said that while numbers are up and the economy is down, she doesn’t necessarily think the two, at least on the campus of Fresno State, are related.

“It’s really hard to tell why this [rise] is happening right now,” Carey said.

“We think most of the graduates are coming to grad school because they want better paying jobs or realize they need a graduate education to obtain the kind of jobs they want.”

Carey seemed to think that even if the dip in the economy and the rise of graduate students is linked, it’s not as much as in past recessions.

“Our numbers have been staying pretty consistent over the past several years,” Carey said.

“We’re thinking that some of that is due to a new recruiter within our office that we have just hired.”

Students see postbaccalaureate degrees as essential

For Nicole Engle, a graduate student studying linguistics, not going to graduate school wasn’t really an option.

“I always thought about getting a master’s, but it wasn’t really until my last semester towards my bachelor’s that I decided to go for it,” Engle said.

“In education, if you want to teach at the college level, like I want to, you usually you have to have at least a master’s.”

Engle said that even if the economy wasn’t in a recession, she most likely would have made the same decision.

“Both of my parents went to graduate school and always said that a master’s degree is almost the new bachelor’s. If you want to be able to have a good job and support yourself, getting at least a master’s is always a good idea.”

Because Engle has a scholarship that will give her nearly half of what her graduate degree will cost, she said that in these economic times, it has been a lot easier for her to achieve her goal — although it was not the determining factor.

“I have the Provost’s Scholarship, which gives me $3,000 for the first year, and then I automatically get it again the second year, for a total of $6,000,” Engle said.

“I still would have gone to graduate school, even without the scholarship, because of the support of my family. They’ve been huge, in the sense that they will pay my way through school. It just gives them a lot more help, since I do have the scholarship.”

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