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More Seek Graduate School To Wait Out Job Market

More Seek Graduate School To Wait Out Job MarketPHILADELPHIA
Brett Tishler still has his senior year at Temple University ahead of him, but he’s fairly sure what his future holds — more school. “With the way the economy is … there’s really nothing I can do right now except go to graduate school and hope that in another three or four years, something will change,” says Tishler, 21, who is applying to law school.
He has plenty of company.
Law school applications are up 17.9 percent for 2002-2003, the biggest spike in a generation, according to the Law School Admission Council in Newtown. And business, education and other graduate programs are also experiencing a swell as graduates decide to stay in school rather than test an uncertain job market.
It’s a big difference from the late 1990s when graduating students eschewed graduate schools for high-paying jobs and big signing bonuses at dot-com companies.
The law school council’s preliminary count, taken July 5, tallied 88,418 applications nationwide, compared to 74,994 at the same time last year.
Business, education and other graduate programs are also seeing more applicants, although interest in medicine remains low.
Columbia University’s business school, for example, received 7,400 applications this year, up about 26 percent. The University of Pennsylvania had 1,700 applications to its graduate school of education, a 38 percent hike.
“There might be a little bit of a dot-com backlash,” says Tom Kecskemethy, associate dean of the education school at Penn. “Graduate education tends to be a haven for students when you’re choosing between a lousy job market and the prospect of increasing your education, even if there is a price tag attached.”
In a spring survey of 415 members by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, companies estimated they would hire 36.4 percent fewer graduating seniors this year compared to last year.
Starting salaries also are down.
Computer science graduates saw their offers drop 5.9 percent to $49,957, sliding under $50,000 for the first time since the fall of 2000. Undergraduate psychology majors saw their offers fall 12.8 percent to $26,456, according to a recent survey by the Bethlehem-based association.
The nation’s graduate programs, including those in law and medicine, boast an enrollment of about 1.5 million to 1.6 million people, according to the Council of Graduate Schools.
Among the few graduate programs not seeing a surge are medical schools, where applications have been falling since 1996. Experts say those numbers may take longer to rebound in a slow economy because of the time needed to finish pre-medical coursework.
Medical school applications climbed from 37,402 in 1992 to 46,965 in 1996 before starting their slide to 34,859 in 2001, in part because of managed care concerns and the earnings outlook in business, technology and other fields.
The 2002 figures are not yet available. 

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