As we wrote last week, the job market for young people is so dismal that only half of college graduates since 2006 currently have full time jobs. With those odds, many choose to go back to school.
Graduate school enrollment is expected to increase 30% to 3.7 million over the next four years, according to estimates by private equity firm Education Dynamics and Aslanian Market Research. “It’s a direct result of the economy,” says Paul T. Conway, president of Generation Opportunity, a non-profit think-tank based in Arlington, Va. “Young people are trying to the best of their ability to invest in themselves.”
The rise in grad school enrollment since the recession is adding to the already high levels of student debt. Those who attended graduate school since 2006 owe 33% more debt — an average of $30,000 — than those who only have an undergraduate degree, according to research by Rutgers University’s John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development. And only 13% of those students have been able to pay off that debt in full, says Carl Van Horn, professor at the center.
Still, many graduate students say taking on those big debt loads is worth it – noting that the four-year degree is no longer enough to land the best jobs. Some 40% of college graduates since 2006 said they’d need further education to have a successful career, according to research, while more than a quarter said they’d already gone back to school. “They’re taking on more debt in the hope that they can find meaningful and well-paid employment in their chosen field.”