With the economy in recession, an increasing number of University students are considering going to graduate school to avoid entering the job market altogether. As a result, graduate business, law and liberal arts programs are becoming increasingly appealing, according to representatives of test preparation companies.

LSA sophomore Lucy Amaro said that hearing her friends’ job-hunting troubles during the economic pinch could affect her plans for after graduation.

“I have a lot of friends who just graduated last year and they still haven’t found a job,” she said. “They are more than likely going back to grad school.”

In a report issued last month, test preparation agency Kaplan noted a 45 percent increase in student interest in its business, law and graduate school preparation programs since Sept. 1.

The report said that from January to September, the number of students taking the GMAT — the admissions exam required by most MBA programs — was up 5.8 percent in the United States and 11.6 percent worldwide, compared with the same period last year.

The Kaplan-sponsored World Grad School Tour, a multi-city function where prospective graduate students can meet with admissions officers from graduate programs, had more than a 200 percent increase in attendance from the year before, according to the report.

And with more students flooding graduate programs, many expect competition to become more intense.

Seventy-five percent of the 245 business school admissions officers from across the country recently surveyed by Kaplan said that the admissions process at their universities is more competitive than it was just three years ago.

But many admissions officers reported that their schools are considering expanding the incoming classes as soon as fall 2009, with some increasing capacity by up to 25 percent.

Nick Lysaght, the assistant director of graduate marketing at The Princeton Review, said more students have expressed concerns over poor job prospects this year. Those students, he said, have opted to instead take the entrance exams for professional schools.

“We’re seeing that on our end as well, which is good for business,” he said. “But at the same time, it’s tough to see the economy doing poorly.”

Lysaght said that because the economy is cyclical, it’s not unusual for an increased number of students to seek a professional degree to get a leg up when seeking a job in a tightened market.

“A bachelor’s degree isn’t as competitive as it used to be,” he said.

LSA senior Matt Bailey, who is applying to law schools, said the economic downturn bolstered his desire to become a lawyer. He agreed that students graduating with a liberal arts degree should consider “something more than a bachelor’s.”

Interested in becoming a teacher, Amaro said the scarcity of jobs has left her little choice but to eventually apply for a master’s degree in school counseling in order to reach her goal. She said graduate study would offer her a “safety net,” as opposed to jumping right into the job market.

Like other University students, LSA junior Daniel Rehmann said he’s always considered applying to graduate school. He intends to find a job out of the state, and he said he was confident that graduate study at the University would put him in a good position to do so.

“Odds are good that coming from a University like this, you’ll get a job,” he said.

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