Continuing Education— Economy causes increased interest in graduate school

Catie Castelli, St. Clair Shores senior, started searching for a job in September, almost immediately after she returned to Albion. She is still looking.

First-time enrollment for graduate school students grew six percent nationally from 2008 to 2009, according to the Council of Graduate Schools in USA Today. According to Mary Jones, director of career development, an increasing amount of Albion College sophomores and juniors are looking into graduate school.

“My parents have been trying to convince me to get a job, but the Michigan economy is what convinced me graduate school was the right way to go,” said Emily Veros, Wixom senior.

According to the most recent statistic reported by the United States Department of Labor, the January 2011 Michigan unemployment rate is 10.7 percent.

Veros applied to one graduate school in Michigan and seven out of state. Veros still talks to friends from previous graduating classes, and  three of them are still looking for jobs.

Increased interest in graduate school has intensified competition for students seeking to continue their education.

Rhonda Vander Zwagg, Holland senior, applied to a higher education administration student affairs graduate program.

“I think that’s one of the reasons I got a denial, that was my number one choice and they were looking for a 23 person class,” Vander Zwaag said. “They had 260 applicants and it’s one of the best programs in the country. As I had talked to them, they said this is the biggest pool of applicants they ever had.”

According to a survey by the Office of Career Development, 40 percent of 2009 Albion graduates are continuing their education and 49 percent are employed. Seven percent are unemployed and the remaining students are serving in the military or volunteering.

In addition, six to eight percent are still seeking employment, according to Jones.

The Office of Career Development is still compiling data for the 2010 class, but  Jones expects the data to show between 40 and 50 percent of the 2010 graduating class to be enrolled in graduate school with the remainder employed in full-time jobs.

“It’s the nature of things to be competitive. It’s not that more people are more qualified than before, it’s that more people are applying to graduate school,” Vander Zwaag said.

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