Economic Meltdown Causes Surge in Grad School Applications

With the recession more people than ever are looking to return to school. According to an article in the New York Times:

The number of people taking the Law School Admissions Test, for example, rose 20 percent in October, compared with October 2008, reaching an all-time high of 60,746. And the number of Americans who took the Graduate Record Examination in 2009 rose 13 percent, to a record 670,000, compared with the year before, according to the Educational Testing Service, which administers the test. The increase is a sharp reversal from 2008, when the number fell 2 percent even though the recession was already under way.

This is a common trend during a recession. Once the economy makes it harder to get a job, or harder to keep a job, people apply to graduate school in record numbers, anxious not only to further their education, but also depart the job market for awhile in the hopes that they can return with better chances of finding a job in the future.

Law schools in particular report application increases. The law school at Washington University in St. Louis has had a 19 percent increase in applications over last year. The University of San Francisco School of Law experienced a 35 percent application increase.

The merits of attending graduate school during a recession are debatable, however. While Jerry Wofford at the Oklahoma Daily once wrote that, with proper financial aid, grad school might be a good way to wait out a recession, career columnist Penelope Trunk says that in general graduate school is a risky investment with an uncertain payoff.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer