With a treacherous job market and a dismal economy, recently released numbers show that more students are electing to take the Graduate Record Examination and apply to graduate school instead of looking for jobs after they graduate.
Statistics provided by Educational Testing Service, the company that administers the GRE, show there has been a 13-percent increase this year over last year in the number of students taking the GRE in the United States.
The GRE is used as an admissions test for graduate school. The test is made up of three sections: verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning and analytical writing.
While officials from the company point to several reasons for the increase, the most clear-cut one is simply that students are looking at graduate school in larger numbers in this tough job market.
Mark McNutt, ETS manager of media relations, said historically the number of people who take the GRE increases during a recession. He added that one cause of this may be that individuals with advanced degrees are more likely to find jobs once they leave school.
“Students who are in school now, who are looking at a very weak job market and who have the means to go to graduate school are deciding that they’ll forgo trying to get a job immediately after school,” McNutt said. “(They) basically decide to stay in school so that when they do come into the job market they’re entering with an advanced degree.”
Engineering senior Michael Glotter echoed McNutt’s sentiment. Glotter said he was considering entering the work force before going to graduate school, but the economic climate caused him to change his mind.
“If I’m going to go to grad school, this kind of seems like it’s a good time to do it because jobs are so limited right now,” he said. “Grad school is one of my only options right now just because there aren’t many jobs available.”
McNutt also attributed the rise in test takers to ETS’s efforts to reach out to juniors and seniors. He said ETS has revamped its website, increased its presence on college campuses and begun to offer free test prep materials in order to increase the number of people taking the test.
McNutt added that statistically, individuals between the ages of 19 and 23, who are still in college, do better than those who take the test after they graduate. Graduate schools accept GRE scores up to five years after the test is taken, so even if students aren’t sure graduate school is right for them, McNutt said, it’s in their best interests to take the test.
“It makes sense because those students are still in school or are closer to their academic experience, which really is helpful when they are taking a high-stakes test like the GRE,” he said.
Another factor causing more students to take the GRE is that many MBA programs are now accepting the GRE — in addition to the Graduate Management Admission Test — as an admissions exam, according to the ETS website.
Hundreds of MBA programs around the world, including those at Harvard Business School, Yale School of Management and the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, have all started to accept the GRE as a substitute for the GMAT this year.
The Ross School of Business currently doesn’t accept the GRE, but Admissions Director Soojin Koh wrote in an e-mail interview that the school is considering adding the test next year.
Last week, ETS announced sweeping changes to the GRE. The changes, which will go into effect in 2011, are partially aimed at making the test have a greater resemblance to the GMAT.