Graduate Schools Report Disparity In Number Of Applications

Graduate Schools Report Disparity In Number Of Applications

By CityTownInfo.com Staff

March 16, 2009

As the economy declines and job opportunities become more limited, some are applying to graduate school while others are apparently feeling reluctant to take on more student debt. As a result, while some graduate schools are reporting record enrollment, other grad school officials are noticing a decrease in applications.

The Houston Chronicle reports that some graduate schools are still assessing the effect of the economic downturn on this year's enrollment. While enrollment has increased significantly, officials note that it's not clear whether more people are applying, or if the same number of people are applying to more schools.

"Some schools are up, and others aren't," noted Monica Ingram, assistant dean for admissions and financial aid at the University of Texas School of Law, where applications have increased by 8 percent since last year. "It's odd," she told the Chronicle.

The Boston Globe reports that according to the Council of Graduate Schools in Washington, D.C., many universities have seen grad school applications increase 10 to 20 percent over last year. At Harvard's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, applications have jumped 12 percent, while the school's Kennedy School of Government has seen a remarkable 34 percent increase in applications to the master's in public policy. In addition, overall graduate applications rose 9 percent at Yale and 10 percent at Princeton.

But Marco Mariotto, dean of the office of graduate and professional studies at the University of Houston, told the Chronicle that grad school application numbers have been unpredictable this year. "It doesn't seem to be fitting cleanly into the old models, that applications go up when the economy goes down, and vice versa," he explained.

Nevertheless, Mariotto noted that students set to graduate in May appear to applying to graduate school in case they can't find a job. "What we may see is some of those students hedging their bets, saying 'I should apply for graduate school, too.' If I were in their position, I would hedge my bets, too," he said.

At the University of Iowa, graduate school applications have noticeably decreased. The Iowa City Press-Citizen quoted John Keller, dean of UI's graduate college, who said applications went down 8 percent this year. The College of Law also reported a 10 percent decrease in applications. Keller attributed the dip in admissions to a perception that student loans may be difficult to obtain.

"Many people are hesitant to go into any more debt at this point in their lives, and they are focusing on saving money as much as possible," added Collins Byrd, law school assistant dean of admission.

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