More students going to graduate school
Published: Friday, February 1, 2013
Updated: Friday, February 1, 2013 00:02
A new study released by a Connecticut-based company finds that college students opting to enter graduate school may be contributing to a significant decline in Connecticut’s labor force.
Donald Klepper-Smith, the chief economist for DataCore Partners in New Haven, published the results of the state-by-state study that analyzes the changes in labor force over the past year based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The findings indicated that Connecticut’s labor force shrunk by 51,130 workers from December 2011 to December 2012, a 2.7 percent decrease, which amounted to the largest of any state in the nation.
“It’s a mistake to say any one factor is responsible for this,” Klepper-Smith told the Connecticut Post.
However, as the New Haven Register reported on Saturday, Klepper-Smith did list several contributing factors, including one relevant to college students across the state: “Graduating college students electing to seek advanced degrees rather than face the prospect of entering the job market at this time.”
John Dearborn, an 8th-semester political science major, sees graduate school as a necessity for himself. Dearborn has applied to 13 different schools and programs across the country. While his primary motive for pursuing graduate school is research-oriented, he was frank about additional economic pressures facing him and his peers.
“I also don’t see other opportunities in the economy that would really entice me at this current time and I figure the security of grad school and hopefully getting a stipend … would be useful,” Dearborn said.
He also commented on how he believes it is becoming more difficult for students to be admitted to graduate schools and as said the level of competition between applicants is increasing. Despite this, Dearborn is still confident that he would have pursued graduate school even if he were unsure of his career goals in the future.
“If I wasn’t sure what my career goal was going to be, then I probably would’ve still tried to go to graduate school in some capacity just because of not knowing and not wanting to enter the economy too soon,” Dearborn said.
He isn’t alone. In fact, Emily Mattson, a second-year graduate student in the UConn Human Development and Family Studies master’s program, expressed that similar economic concerns were present when she decided to pursue her master’s degree.
“I was interning over the summer after I graduated and I didn’t have anything lined up,” Mattson said. “My senior year, a lot of people were saying — I think they’ve been saying it for years — that the job market’s really hard.”
After working with the women’s basketball team for all four years as an undergraduate, Mattson was offered the Graduate Assistant position with the team, which served as her primary motivator for continuing her education. Yet, at the same time, the position prevented her from having to enter uncertain economic conditions without any plans in place.
She also commented on some of her friends’ decisions to pursue graduate degrees, saying that they did not feel completely prepared for the work environment.
“A lot of my friends just wanted to continue their education,” Mattson said. “They just wanted to learn more before they got in the field, because they didn’t feel as though they had mastered enough to be working out in the work force.”
These feelings about the necessity of work-readiness are not exclusive to seniors on the verge of graduating, however. 2nd-semester health care management major Quian Callender also held similar views about the perceived necessity of graduate school before entering the labor force.
“For many jobs, you need a master’s degree or some type of graduate degree, so going right after college when you’re motivated to do so — it’s just easier,” Callender said. “It wouldn’t be guaranteed that I would want to go back into college to get a master’s degree or a Ph.D.”
In addition, Callender stated that parents, advisors and other people of influence could be sources of pressure, even to students who are only in their first or second semester of college.
The looming economic pressure has influenced many students to pursue more advanced degrees before entering the labor force, even if it only served to solidify another reason for applying to graduate school. As a result, Connecticut’s labor force is in decline, which Klepper-Smith believes could be harmful to the continuing recovery.
“We’re moving in the wrong direction and we’re moving there fast,” Klepper-Smith told the New Haven Register. “You’ve heard of businesses running on just-in-time inventories, but what we’re looking at now is a just-in-time work force. It’s not your father’s type of economic recovery.”