Experts said they expect graduate school applications to increase due to an economic recession after Sept. 11, but they said it is still too early to tell.
“It’s too early to tell, but the tendency is to go to school because it’s harder to get jobs,” said Carol Sigelman, associate vice president for research and graduate studies.
Economics professor Bryan Boulier said war usually causes a recession, a decrease in economic activity for an extended time period.
“The output falls and then there is an increase in unemployment,” Boulier said.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported an unemployment rate of 5.4 percent, or 7.7 million people, for October 2001, a 1.5 percent increase from last October.
“Looking at this statistically, there is no evidence that graduate applications will go up, but the consensus is when the economy goes down, graduate school enrollment goes up,” said Joe Knop, associate director of GW’s Institutional Research.
Officials said seniors should keep their options open between working and going back to school.
Director of the GW Career Center Marva Gumbs said seniors should send out their resumes in addition to applying to graduate schools so they will be able to weigh their options more objectively if job offers do not come in.
GW graduate admissions are still receiving a high number of inquiries and applications but are not sure at this point whether they have attracted more applications than last year, Sigelman said.
GW’s Assistant Director of Graduate Student Enrollment Management Clint Williams said graduate enrollment also goes up when people feel they need more education in order to get a better job.
“Enrollment this fall went up in the school of engineering,” Williams said. “Recent graduates were making $80,000 to $90,000 a year in the dot-com industry and didn’t see any need for graduate school. But with all the failures, seniors are rethinking this.”
GW graduate schools saw an increase of 380 applications for the fall of 2001 from the previous year.
Gumbs said the economy has reduced the number of job offers being made and that last year’s senior class had more competing offers because more employers were coming to campus.
“There is still a recruitment of the college-educated work force,” Gumbs said. “But the fall recruitment may not come back during the spring recruitment.”
Gumbs said seniors should not rely on jobs opening up in the spring.
“The competition the seniors might want may come in the fall and not the spring. We want the seniors ideally to come in to the Career Center at the beginning of the year and not wait until second semester,” she said. “If they wait until the last minute, they will do a disservice to themselves.”
The bulk of seniors will graduate in May, but most employers hire almost a year in advance, Gumbs said.
Experts also said seniors should watch which sectors of the economy are affected by the slowdown.
In times of war there is an expansion of government demand for war materials and jobs, Boulier said.
“When the war went on in World War II, employment increased. This is also true of the Korean War and the Vietnam War,” said Boulier. “The economy after war depends on the transition to the civilian economy.”
Boulier said World War II did not have as severe a recession as World War I because of the demand for civilian goods like automobiles and housing that citizens were not able to purchase during the war.
“We can’t really be sure what our economy will be like at this time. It could be a long process, and will depend on when the war ends,” Boulier said.
Gumbs said employers have a harder time projecting what the need is or will be because they are not able to foresee our economic market status.
“If a company’s Web site says they are not hiring now, I would encourage (seniors) to go back later on because businesses are keeping abreast of the market and will keep changing,” Gumbs said.
Boulier said although some sectors are negatively impacted because of the war, it is fairly temporary.
“The transportation and leisure sectors were affected by Sept. 11, but as we improve our security and become more comfortable, those sectors will go back up,” Boulier said.
The tight market is changing the way some seniors approach job searches.
I’m not really worried about the job market,” senior international affairs major Kevin Gully said. “The lack of jobs might gear me towards a government job rather than a private one and even got me thinking about graduate school.”