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May 10, 2009

How to Beat “The Curse of the Class of 2009”

My guest blogger, Steve Green, provides some insightful remarks on why now may be a very good time to go to graduate school.

How to Beat “The Curse of the Class of 2009”

Here’s some unsurprising news from the Wall Street Journal: “The bad news for this spring's college graduates is that they're entering the toughest labor market in at least 25 years.”

As writer Sarah Murray notes, however, that’s not the whole unpleasant story. “The worse news: Even those who land jobs will likely suffer lower wages for a decade or more compared to those lucky enough to graduate in better times, studies show.”

Murray cites research by Lisa Kahn, an economist at Yale School of Management, “for each percentage-point increase in the unemployment rate, those with the misfortune to graduate during the recession earned 7% to 8% less in their first year out than comparable workers who graduated in better times. The effect persisted over many years, with recession-era grads earning 4% to 5% less by their 12th year out of college, and 2% less by their 18th year out.”

So, this spring’s graduates are cursed not only with reduced job prospects now but also lower wages for the next decade or more.

How can you increase your odds to beat this curse? Earn a graduate degree. According to Professor Kahn, college grads who went to graduate school instead of the job market during the early '80s recession didn't suffer the same wage losses.

Conclusion: If you have been thinking about earning a graduate degree, then now may be the best time for both immediate and long-term reasons. Of course, it is a bad idea to enter graduate school merely to escape the economy or only to increase your chances of a better salary without thinking about what kind of work fires your passions.

As in any year, and for anyone thinking about going to grad school, before you apply:

  • Have a clear idea of what you want to study

  • Envision your post-graduation career path and make sure the grad degree really is the best vehicle for that path

  • Be honest about whether or not you are willing to take on student loans and/or spend your savings on grad school

  • Start to prepare your application now (See my previous post on getting an early start to the process.)

- H. Steven Green

For questions regarding this post, please contact me at h.steven.green@gmail.com. To learn more about my graduate admissions consulting services, please click here.
- H. Steven ("Steve") Green, グリーン・ハロルド・スティーブン

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