Students resort to graduate school in light of weak job market

Amid the economic downturn, some graduating seniors are turning to graduate school in hopes of avoiding the troublesome job market, a university official said.

John Thompson, executive director of career services, said during an economic crisis he sees many students turn to graduate school because they didn’t get job offers or weren’t satisfied with the jobs they were offered.

“Graduate school is always an option,” Thompson said. “But it’s a more attractive option when the job situation isn’t very good.”

Emily Cody, a senior history and English major, said she has begun the application process to get into the graduate history program on campus.

Cody said her decision to apply to graduate school was not affected by the state of the current job market.

“From what I understand, it’s a common misconception that liberal arts majors can’t get jobs,” Cody said.

Businesses want people that have the critical thinking skills that are taught in a liberal arts major, Cody said.

Thompson said job opportunities for fall graduates are not as great as those that graduate after the spring semester. Many companies have training programs that start in June, and he said the number of open positions a company may allot each year are usually filled by the time a fall graduate looks for a job.

Most graduate programs start in the fall semester, so December graduates are forced to wait before they can begin their graduate program, Thompson said. In the meantime, graduates can look for temporary part-time work or internships, and they have the advantage because they are college graduates, he said.

Several companies are more inclined to hire a college graduate as an intern as opposed to a current student simply because they have more experience, Thompson said.

Peter Worthing, director of the graduate program for the history department, said it is difficult to know if there has been a change in the number of undergraduates going to graduate school, and the only real way for him to tell is by the number of applicants that apply to get into the program, which has not changed much from last year, he said.

Generally, the graduate history program has only one or two applicants interested in starting in January or mid-year, and most graduating seniors apply to begin the graduate program in the fall, Worthing said.